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It may be proper to premise that the substance of the 
present volume was originally delivered, for the most part, 
in the form of popular lectures, and designed for the use of 
the younger members of the Church, with the view of in- 
ducing them to take a deeper interest in the Church of their 
fathers. This circumstance accounts for the popular and 
almost conversational tone thus imparted to the narrative. 
The object of the volume is chiefly to exhibit the more pro- 
minent features of our Church history; and it will be found to 
consist, in a great measure, of a series of illustrations charac- 
teristic of the several periods to which they relate, many 
of them of a highly dramatic kind. 

The author candidly avows himself a Presbyterian of the 
old school ; and he has been at no pains to conceal his sen- 
timents. In support of the main facts of the history, which 
have been amply authenticated in larger works, accessible 
to all, he considers it superfluous to adduce authorities. 
But he has advanced no statement, the truth of which he did 
not endeavour to ascertain by personal investigation; and, in 
disputed cases, the authorities to which he refers will speak 
for themselves. The leading facts of our ecclesiastical his- 
tory, so far as is requisite to form a candid and enlightened 
judgment on them, are placed beyond all dispute, having 
been admitted by respectable historians of all creeds and 
principles. The discrepancies which may appear in their 


accounts consist chiefly in the opposite interpretations 
which they put on the same facts, and the different conclu- 
sions which they draw from the same events — interpretations 
and conclusions which will vary according to the author's 
sentiments and prepossessions, and vary with regard to the 
facts and events of the present day as well as those of the 
past. Convinced that no writer of Church history who has 
any principles to which he attaches importance can describe 
the scenes and characters with which these principles are 
identified, without imparting to the description more or less 
of the colour of his own mind, the author does not attach 
much value to the high professions of impartiality with which 
some historians have ushered their productions into the 
world. The topics included in this extensive survey are so 
various, and, as they approach modern times, touch upon 
so many points which may be held disputable, that the 
author can hardly expect to escape from some censure; but 
while he has aimed to authenticate his statement of facts by 
appealing to the best sources of information, he is not con- 
scious of having justly incurred the charge of misrepresen- 
tation, or of having been misguided in his personal reflections 
by prejudice or by partisanship. 

The first portion of the present Work was published in the 
year 1846, under the title of "Sketches of Scottish Church 
History," embracing the period from the Reformation to that 
of the Revolution. It then appeared in two small volumes. 
This portion has now been revised throughout, and what- 
ever was only of passing interest, in the Appendices or else- 
where, has been removed. But the body of the narrative 
has been almost entirely retained. The continuation of 
"The Story" — from the Revolution to the Disruption, is 
recently written, and is now published for the first time. 
Thus, in its present form, the whole book comprises, within 
reasonable compass, a connected "Story of the Scottish 


Church," from its earliest development at the Reformation, 
with the varying fortunes of its progress, its revivals, its suffer- 
ings, and its declensions — down to the aspect which it bears 
at the present day. 

No Church in Christendom, it is believed, affords so 
many incidents of stirring interest, or furnishes to readers of 
the present day so many lessons of paramount importance. 

Several years ago, the proposal to complete my "Sketches 
of Scottish Church History," by bringing down the narra- 
tive to the present day, was suggested to me by a highly 
respected member of the firm of Blackie and Son; but, 
owing to various other avocations, the design, though par- 
tially prepared for, was never till now carried into effect. 
The continuation is now completed, and the whole appears 
as a continuous story, down to the period which, it is be- 
lieved, marks an historical epoch, sufficient to guide the 
student of history in forming his judgment with regard 
to present events in the light of a connected and compre- 
hensive review of the past. Seldom, if ever, has the sacred 
emblem of the Church of Christ — the Burning Bush — so ap- 
propriately adopted by the Scottish Church after the Revolu- 
tion in 1690, been more amply verified than in its whole 
history, according to its ancient motto, 


T. M'C. 

Edinburgh, December, 1874. 



CHAPTER 1.-1529-1540. 

State of religion before the Reformation — Popeiy in Scotland — 
Origin of the Reformation — The early martyrs of the Reformation 
— Patrick Hamilton — Stratton — Kennedy and Russell — Woman 
at Perth — Persecuting character of Popery, I 

CHAPTER II.— 1544-1559. 

The last martyrs of the Reformation — George Wishart — Walter 
Mill — Commencement of the Reformation — Scotland reformed 
by her nobles and people — Arrival of John Knox — Demolition 
of the monasteries, 17 

CHAPTER III.— 1 560-1 5 72. 

National establishment of the reformed religion — First meeting of 
the General Assembly — The First Book of Discipline — Constitu- 
tion of the Church of Scotland — Anecdotes of John Knox and 
Queen Mary — The murder of the Good Regent — Death of John 
Knox, 40 

CHAPTER IV.— 1572-1586. 

Attempts to alter the constitution of the Church of Scotland — 
Tulchan bishops — Anecdote of Campbell of Kinyeancleuch — 
Andrew Melville — Second Book of Discipline — The National 
Covenant of Scotland — Excommunication of Montgomery — 
Melville's intrepidity — Scenes between James VI. and the Pres- 
byterian ministers, 63 

CHAPTER V.— 1592-1616 

Re-establishment of the Presbyterian discipline in 1592 — King 
James and Andrew Melville — Renewal of the National Covenant 


in 1596 — Pretended riot of 17th December — Schemes for the in- 
troduction of Prelacy into the Church of Scotland — The Gowrie 
Conspiracy — Robert Bruce — James at the Hampton Court Con- 
ference — Aberdeen Assembly in 1605 — Scheme of constant mod- 
erators—Extraordinary scene at Perth — Bishops admitted by the 
packed Assembly of Glasgow in 16 10 — Consecration of the 
bishops — Archbishop Gladstanes — Court of High Commission, . 81 

CHAPTER VI.— 1617-1630. 

The king attempts to introduce the English ceremonies — Prosecution 
of Mr David Calderwood — The Five Articles of Perth — Black 
Saturday — Disputes between the ministers and people — King 
James and the bookseller — Ejected ministers — John Welch — 
Robert Bruce — Robert Blair — Patrick Simpson — Andrew Dun- 
can — George Dunbar — John Scrimgeour — Robert Cunningham 
— Revivals at Stewarton and Kirk of Shotts, 109 

CHAPTER VII.— 1633-1638. 

Accession of Charles I. — His visit to Scotland — Laud's Service 
Book — Its reception in Scotland — The covenant renewed — State 
of parties — Alexander Henderson — Earls Loudoun and Rothes 
— Hamilton's visit to Scotland — Glasgow Assembly, 1638 — 
Presbyterian form of \vorship, 136 

CHAPTER VIIL— 1639-1640. 

The bishops' war — Preparations of the Covenanters — Encampment 
at Dunse Law — Pacification at Birks — General Assembly, 1639 
— Private meetings — Lord and Lady Loudoun — Civil war re- 
newed by Charles, 169 

CHAPTER IX.— 1640-1647. 

The scene changes to England — The Star-chamber — Irish massacre 
— The Long Parliament — The Solemn League and Covenant — 
Westminster Assembly — George Gillespie — Westminster Stan- 
dards — Presbyterianism in England — Presbyterianism in Ireland 
— Erastianism and sectarianism, 186 

CHAPTER X.— 1647 1660. 

Montrose and the Covenanters — Charles I. comes to the Scots army 
— His discussion with Alexander Henderson — Death of Hender- 
son — Disposal of the king's person — Duke of Hamilton's engage- 
ment — Execution of Charles I. — State of religion in Scotland — 
Abolition of patronage — Negotiations with Charles II. — His 
coronation — Resolutioners and Protesters — Cromwell and the 


English army in Scotland — Anecdotes of Blair, Rutherford, and 
Douglas, 207 

CHAPTER XL— 1660-1663. 

Restoration of Charles — The Reformation overturned by the act 
recissory — Trial and martyrdom of the Marquis of Argyll — 
Martyrdom of James Guthrie — Re-establishment of Episcopacy 
— Treachery of Sharp — Consecration of the Scottish bishops — 
Ejection of the Presbyterian ministers — Introduction of the curates 
— Execution of Lord Warriston, 254 

CHAPTER XIL— 1663 1666. 

Field-meetings in Fife — The bishops' drag-net — High-commission 
court — William Guthrie of Fenwick — Oppressions of the soldiery 
— Rising in the west — Skirmish at Pentland — Tortures and execu- 
tions — Hugh M' Kail — The executioner of Irvine, 277 

CHAPTER XIIL— 1666-1677. 

General Dalziel — Anecdotes of the persecution — Mitchell's attempt 
to assassinate Sharp — The indulgence— The bishops' evangelists 
— Leighton's accommodation — Field-meetings — Description of a 
Scottish Covenanters' communion, 294 

CHAPTER XIV.-1677-1679. 

The Blinks — Trial and execution of Mitchell — Assassination of 
Archbishop Sharp — Severe proceedings against the Presbyterians 
— Sir George Mackenzie — Graham of Claverhouse — The High- 
land host — The Cess — The skirmish at Drumclog — Battle of 
Bothwell Bridge, 313 

CHAPTER XV.— 1679-1685. 

Sketches of celebrated field-preachers — John Blackader — John 
Welsh — Archibald Riddell — Martyrdom of Mr. Hume — Richard 
Cameron — Hackston of Rathillet — The Gibbites — The Society 
People — Barbarities of the persecutors — Martyrdom of Isabel 
Alison and Marion Harvie — True grounds of the sufferings of 
our martyrs — Martyrdom of Margaret Wilson — Military execu- 
. tions — John Brown of Priesthill — Westerraw and Lagg — Retali- 
ations — Enterkin Path — Patience of the sufferers — Death of per- 
secutors, 337 

CHAPTER XVL— 1685-1688. 

The Test — Trial of the Earl of Argyll — Sir Hugh Campbell — Mr. 
William Carstairs — Baillie of Jerviswood — Hume of Polwart — 



Execution of Argyll — Prisoners in Dunottar Castle — James' in- 
dulgence — Execution of Renwick — Character of Scottish Prelacy 
— Alarm of the country — The Revolution, 363 

CHAPTER XVII. — 1688-1689. 

State of Scotland before the Revolution — Countenance shown to 
Popery — Riots in Edinburgh — Causes which led to the Revolu- 
tion — Character of James II. — Alarm of the English clergy — 
Conduct of the Scottish bishops — The Revolution in Scotland — 
The Cameronians — Rabbling of the curates, 380 

CHAPTER XVIII. — 1689-1690. 

The Cameronian guard and regiment — Colonels Cleland and Black - 
ader — Viscount Dundee — Battle of Killiecrankie — Skirmish at 
Dunkeld — Success of the Revolution in Scotland — Difficulties of 
William — Scottish Episcopacy abolished — Factions in Parliament 
— Earl of Craufurd's measures — Revolution settlement of the 
Church of Scotland — Its character and defects, 398 


CHAPTER L— 1690-1703. 

First meeting of the General Assembly alter the Revolution — 
Remnants of the persecuted Covenanters — Semple, Erskine, 
Thomas Hogg — Indulged Presbyterians — The curates — Constitu- 
tion of the Church — William Carstares — Moderation — Shields, 
Linning, and Boyd — Reasons of a fast — Scurrilous lampoons on 
the Assembly — Learned Presbyterians at the Revolution — Blank 
meetings of Assembly — Massacre of Glencoe — Midnight interview 
between Carstares and King William — Parish schools — Execu- 
tion of Aikenhead for blasphemy — Moral and social condition of 
Scotland — Rabbling by the Jacobites in the north — National 
fast — The heresy of Bourignonism, 423 

CHAPTER II.— 1703-1715. 

Queen Anne's accession — Abrupt dissolution of the Assembly, 1703 
— Speech of Carstares at the Assembly of 1705 — Unpopularity of 
the Union in Scotland — The Act of Security and coronation oath 
— Reticence of the Scottish Church on the Union — The visit of 
Dr. Edmund Calamy to the Assembly — Re-imposition of patron- 
age — The oath of abjuration — Character of Carstares — His zeal 
for Presbyter)'' — His death — The covenants renewed at Auchin- 
saugh — Jacobite insurrection under the Earl of Mar — Defence of 


Presbytery by Mr. Anderson of Dumbarton — Publication of 
Wodrow's History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scot/and, . 437 

CHAPTER III. — 1717-1732. 

Professor Simson and James Webster — Dr. Pitcairn's process fot 
defamation — Scottish Baxterianism — Trial of Simson — Sentence 
on Simson — The Auchterarder Creed — Thomas Boston — He 
relates his discovery of the Marrow of Modern Divinity — It is 
re-published by James Hog of Carnock — Principal Hadovv 
preaches against it — Character of the work — It is condemned as 
erroneous by the Assembly, 1720 — Grounds of the condemnation 
— The Committee for Purity of Doctrine — The twelve queries and 
the twelve Representers — Protest of the Representee— Striking 
change in the religion and taste of the Scottish Church — Allan 
Ramsay's circulating library — Final sentence of Professor Simson 
— Professor Campbell on enthusiasm— Deposition of John Glas 
— His singularities — Death of Thomas Boston, 45 J 

CHAPTER IV.— 1 733-1 740. 

The Secession — The occasion of the movement — The cause of the 
Secession — Erskine's synod sermon — He is rebuked by the As- 
sembly — His protestation signed by Messrs. Wilson, Moncrieff, 
and Fisher — Indignation of the Assembly — The protesters sus- 
pended by the Commission — First meeting of the four brethren in 
the Associate Presbytery — They decline to return to the Estab- 
lished Church — They publish their testimony — Evangelical char- 
acter of the movement — Fisher's Catechism — Ralph Erskine's 
Sonnets 465 

CHAPTER V.— 1741-1742. 

George Whitefield in Scotland — His interview with the Seceders — 
Its failure — The work at Cambuslang — Conflicting judgments on 
the revival — Pamphlet by Dr. Webster — Opposition of the 
Seceders — Progress of the Secession — Debate on the revival 
between John Erskine and William Robertson when students at 
the University, 475 

CHAPTER VI.— 1743-1759. 

Robert Blair, author of The Grave— T>\\ John Erskine— His 
character and writings — His quarrel with John Wesley — His 
figure in the pulpit — His letter on the American war — Paganized 
divines — Contrast of the use now made of the classics from that 
of the renaissance in the days of Erasmus — Manifesto of the 
Moderates — Their new policy in establishing a tyrannous superi- 
ority of the Assembly over the inferior courts — Case of Inver- 
keithing— Deposition of Mr. Gillespie of Carnock, 484 


CHAPTER VII. — 1752-1773. 

Infidel writings of Hume and Lord Karnes — General sentence 
against them pronounced by the Assembly — They are defended 
by Dr. Hugh Blair — Home and the tragedy of Douglas — Dr. 
Witherspoon, his Characteristics — His sermons — His influence 
in the Church courts — Mr. Andrew Crosbie, advocate — The 
Schism Overture — Palmy days of Moderatism — Examples of vio- 
lent settlements at Kirk of Shotts and St. Ninian's, .... 495 

CHAPTER VIII.- 1774 1800. 

Dr. Robertson as leader in the Assembly and as a preacher — Anec- 
dote of Dr. Erskine and John Newton — Catholic claims — Plu- 
ralities — Proposal to abolish subscription to the Confession of 
Faith — Retirement of Dr. Robertson from the leadership — His 
last days — John Logan and the Paraphrases — Dr. Blair's sermons 
— Dropping of the protest against patronage — Poems of Robert 
Burns — Disastrous influence of the Moderate clergy on morals — 
Effects of the French Revolution — The debate on missions, 1796 
— Interdicts against chapels of ease and Sabbath Schools — Death 
of Dr. Erskine, 505 

CHAPTER IX.— 1800-1834. 

Symptoms of anti-establishment views — Sir Henry Moncreiff — 
Reminiscences by Dr. Henry Grey — Pioneers of the Evangelical 
and reforming party — Dr. Andrew Thomson — Dr. Thomas 
M'Crie — Dr. Thomas Chalmers — Gradual rise of the Evangelical 
tide — First murmur of opposition to the independence of the 
Church — President Hope and Dr. M'Gill — Deposition of Mr. 
Campbell of Row — The Indian Mission — Dr. Inglis and Alex- 
ander Duff — The Veto measure of 1834 — Galaxy of eminent 
Non-intrusionists — Mr. Alexander Dunlop — Sheriff Graham 
Speirs — Dr. Candlish and Dr. Cunningham — Opposition of Dr. 
M'Crie to the Veto — Success of the measure — Efforts of Dr. 
Chalmers in Church extension — The Voluntary controversy, . .519 

CHAPTER X.— 183S-1S41. 

The Auchterarder case — Specimen of the pleadings — Judgment of 
the Court of Session — Appeal to the House of Lords — Case of 
Lethendy — The Presbytery of Dunkeld cited to the bar of the 
Court of Session — Hugh Miller and the Witness — The Marnoch 
intrusion — Suspension of the seven Strathbogie ministers — Speech 
of Dr. Gordon in St. Cuthbert's — Lord Aberdeen's bill — Inter- 
dict served on the Assembly — Deposition of the Strathbogie 
ministers — Culsalmond, 537 


CHAPTER XI.— 1842-1843. 

Gathering clouds — The Forty — The quoad sacra ministers — Assem- 
bly of 1842 — Motion for the abolition of Patronage — The "Claim 
of Rights" — Preparation for leaving the Establishment — The Con- 
vocation — Dr. Chalmers' sermon — Dr. James Hamilton's picture 
of the Convocation — The converging lines of the Conflict, . . 554 

CHAPTER XII. — 1843. 

The Disruption — Scene, as described by Hugh Miller, in St. An- 
drew's Church — Scene, as given by Dr. James Hamilton, of the 
first meeting of the Free Church at Tanfield — The cheerfulness 
and contentment of the retiring Assembly — Trials after the Dis- 
ruption — Site-refusing — The Free Church of Scotland, . . . 562 





CHAPTER I. 1529— 1540. 

State of religion before the Reformation — Popery in Scotland — Origin of 
the Reformation — The early martyrs of the Reformation — Patrick 
Hamilton — Stratton — Ke7i?iedy and Russell — Woman at Perth — Perse- 
cuting character of Popery. 

For several centuries before the Reformation, if we except 
the Waldenses, who inhabited the inaccessible fastnesses of 
the Alps, the followers of Huss in Bohemia, and the Lollards 
of Kyle in Scotland, there was not a nation in Christendom 
that had not bowed the knee to the authority of the Roman 
church. The pope, affecting to be the vicar and representa- 
tive of Jesus Christ, not in the lowliness of his character 
when on earth, in which he set an example to his followers, 
but in the splendour of his royal dignity in heaven, had risen 
to such a pitch of arrogance, as to assume the honours, not 
only of the head of the Church, but of supreme governor 
over all the kingdoms of the earth. Our Lord has said, "My 
kingdom is not of this world," teaching us that his church is 
distinct from, and independent of, worldly kingdoms, and 
claims no temporal dominion over men; but the Church of 
Rome, in direct contravention of this statute, and interpreting 
literally those passages of Scripture in which the glory of the 
church is portrayed under images drawn from earthly things, 
transformed herself into a worldly monarchy, and challenged, 
in civil as well as ecclesiastical affairs, the homage of the 
greatest princes of Europe. If at any time one of these 
monarchs ventured to disobey the mandates of the Italian 
priest who happened for the time being to be seated in the 
chair of St. Peter, he was immediately excommunicated, and 


his kingdom laid under an interdict; the effects of which 
were, that his subjects were absolved from their allegiance, 
and his assassination was declared a meritorious service, 
entitling the murderer to heaven — all other princes were 
summoned to make war against him — the churches through- 
out the country were shut up — the sacraments were suspended 
— the dead were buried in the highways, and the muffled bells 
rang a funeral peal, as if some fearful curse hung over the 
devoted land. In such circumstances the stoutest potentate 
had been made to tremble, and submit to the most humilia- 
ting penance. Two of them — one, the King of England, 
another, the King of France — were compelled to hold the 
pope's stirrup while he mounted on horseback; a third was 
ordered to lie prostrate on the earth, while the haughty pon- 
tiff, placing his foot on his majesty's neck, exclaimed, "Thou 
shalt tread upon the serpent, and trample on the dragon 
and lion;" another was whipped by proxy, the cardinal of 
Lorraine having received the lashes in the name of his royal 
master, lying flat, as an old historian expresses it, "like a 
mackerel on a gridiron;" while another, Henry IV., emperor 
of Germany, having offended the pope, travelled to his resid- 
ence to beg his forgiveness; and there did he stand at the 
gate, barefooted and bareheaded, for the space of three days, 
ere "his holiness" would admit him to his presence; and 
after all, the haughty pontiff deprived him of his crown, and 
transferred it to another. 

The spiritual power claimed by the pope was, as it still is, 
not less extraordinary. Not content with assuming the pre- 
rogatives and even the titles of the Deity, the lordship of 
conscience, the gift of infallibility, and the power of absolving 
men from the consequences of sin in a future world, he went 
so far as to "exalt himself above the Most High." He pre- 
sumed to consecrate vice, and dispense with the obligations 
of the divine law; he invented new sins, and created new 
worlds in which they might be punished. Indulgences were 
openly sold for money, by which the deluded people were 
taught to believe that their guilt would be forgiven, and tne 
souls of their departed friends redeemed out of a place which 
they termed purgatory. 1 

1 Bellarmine, the standard author of the papists, goes so far as to avei, 
that "if the pope should command vice, and prohibit virtue, the Church 


Popery, however, with all its sanctified pretensions, was 
only a vast conspiracy against the civil and religious liber- 
ties of mankind, the ramifications of which extended over 
nearly the whole earth, and every member of which, from 
the pontiff down to the meanest monk, was sworn to ad- 
vance the interests of the body. Swarms of priests and 
confessors infested every country — penetrating, like the 
plague-frogs of Egypt, into the recesses of every family, 
from the chamber of the king down to the hut of the 
cottager, and polluting everything they touched. This 
motley band, by means of auricular confession, made them- 
selves masters of the secrets of every court, every household, 
and every bosom; a regular system of espionage was estab- 
lished, by which secret intelligence of every movement 
might be conveyed to head-quarters; and the complicated 
machinery, obeying the touch of some unseen hand, could 
be made to bear, with decided and irresistible effect, on the 
accomplishment of its designs. 

Some may be surprised how such a system of organized 
oppression could have been tolerated so long without com- 
bined attempt to shake it off. But we shall cease to 
wonder when we consult the Scriptures, where we learn 
that the antichristian system is the masterpiece of satanic 
cunning, expressly devised for deluding mankind — " whose 
coming is after the working of Satan, with all power, and 
signs, and lying wonders; and with all deceivableness of 
unrighteousness in them that perish." We shall cease to 
wonder when we consider that Popery is the religion of the 
corrupt heart of man, admirably contrived to foster its pride, 
and feed its lusts and passions; offering pardons which may 
be procured for money, and presenting objects for worship 
which may be seen and handled; enlisting all the fine arts — 
architecture, music, painting, and statuary — into its service; 
appealing to every sense; enthralling the mind by the 
mystery and plausibility of its doctrines; fascinating the 
imagination by the gorgeousness of its ritual; and overwhelm- 
ing reason itself by the magnitude of its pretensions. And 
we shall cease to wonder, when we think on the power which 

would be bound to believe vice to be good, and virtue to be evil, unless she 
would sin against conscience." (See Bruce's Free Thoughts on Popery, 
p. 20.) 


the popish clergy were able to wield in support of their 
system ; that the slightest heretical whisper was sufficient to 
consign the suspected person to the dungeons of the Inquisi- 
tion; and that, if he persisted in holding his opinions, he 
was doomed to expiate, in the flames of a cruel death, the 
crime of having dared to question the dogmas of the infallible 
Church. For, after all, the Church of Rome would have found 
it impossible to withstand the opposition which, from time 
to time, her arrogance provoked, had not "the kings of the 
earth," intoxicated with "the wine of her fornication" — in 
other words, seduced, corrupted, and enslaved by her idola- 
tries — "given their power to the beast," by lending themselves 
to be the tools of her policy and the executioners of her 

The state of religion in Scotland, immediately before the 
Reformation, was deplorable in the extreme. Owing to the 
distance of this country from Rome, it was the more easy for 
the clergy to keep up on the minds of the people a supersti- 
tious veneration for the papal power; and our ancestors, who 
heard of the pope only in the lofty panegyrics of the monks, 
regarded him as a kind of demigod. Of Christianity, almost 
nothing remained but the name. Such of the doctrines of 
our holy religion as were retained in the profession ot the 
church, were completely neutralized by heresies subversive 
of them, or buried under a mass of superstitious observances. 
An innumerable multitude of saints were substituted in the 
place of Him who is the "one mediator between God and 
man." The exactions made by the priests were most rapa- 
cious. The beds of the dying were besieged, and their last 
moments cruelly disturbed, with the view of obtaining lega- 
cies to their convents. Nor did the grave itself put a period 
to their demands; for no sooner had the poor farmer or 
mechanic breathed his last, than the priest came and carried 
off his corpse-present; and if he died rich, his relations were 
sure to be taxed for masses to relieve his soul from purgatory. 
In Scotland alone, the number of convents, monasteries, and 
nunneries amounted to upwards of a hundred and fifty. 1 
These were inhabited by shoals of monks and friars; the 
monks being confined to their cloisters, and the friars per- 
mitted to wander about preaching and begging. The profli- 
1 Appendix to Spot .oode's History. 


gacy of the priests and higher clergy was notorious. The 
ordinances of religion were debased, " divine service was 
neglected, and, except on festival days, the churches (about 
the demolition of which such an outcry has been made by 
some) were no longer employed for sacred purposes, but 
served as sanctuaries for malefactors, places of traffic, or 
resorts for pastime." 1 One anecdote will sometimes show 
the state of matters better than whole pages of description. 
It seems that a chief part of the priest's office in those days 
was cursing. A letter of cursing cost &plack; and nothing was 
more common with the country people, when any part of 
their property, even the most trifling article, was amissing, 
than to pay the priest for cursing the thief. The process is 
thus described in a friar's sermon, quoted by Knox : " The 
priest whose duty and office it is to pray for the people stands 
up on Sunday and cries, 'Ane has tint a spurtill; 2 thair is a 
flail stoun beyond the burne; the gudewife on the other side 
of the gait has tint a home spune : God's malison and mine 
I give to them that knows of this geir and restores it 
not!'" 3 

Persecution and the suppression of free inquiry were the 
only weapons by which such a system of corruption and 
imposition could defend itself. Every avenue by which truth 
might enter was carefully guarded; the Scriptures were 
effectually kept from the view of the people by being locked 
up in a dead language; the most frightful pictures were 
drawn of those who had separated from the communion of 
Rome ; and if any person hinted dissatisfaction with the con- 
duct of churchmen, or proposed the correction of abuses, he 
was immediately marked as a heretic, and if he did not con- 
sult his safety by flight he was immured in a dungeon, or 
committed to the flames. Such were the power and the vigil- 
ance exercised by the clergy, that it was not safe to utter a word 
against them, even in one's sleep. It is recorded as a fact, 
that one man, a precentor or chanter as he was called, was 
actually apprehended, and had he not recanted, would have 
suffered death, merely because he was overheard saying in 
his sleep one night, " The deevil tak the priests, for they are 
a greedy pack!" 4 

1 M'Crie's Life of Knox, i. 23. 2 Lost a porridge-stick. 

3 Knox's History, p. 14. 4 Ibid. p. 15. 


As an illustration of the gross ignorance which then pre- 
vailed among the clergy, Buchanan informs us that in 1545, 
when severe laws were enacted against the reading of the 
New Testament, such was the blindness of the priests, that 
many of them, scandalized at the term new, maintained that 
11 was a dangerous book lately written by Martin Luther, and 
cried out, "they would have no new testaments ; give them the 
o/donel" 1 When Thomas Forrest, usually called Dean Thomas, 
or the vicar of Dollar, was examined before the Bishop of 
Dunkeld on a charge of having ventured to preach from the 
gospel or epistle for the day, and " shown the mysteries of 
the Scripture to the people in their own language, so as to 
make the clergy detestable in their sight," the following con- 
versation took place: "My joy, Dean Thomas," said the 
bishop, "I love you well, and therefore I must give you 
my counsel how you shall rule and guide yourself." " I 
thank your lordship heartily," replied the vicar. " My joy, 
Dean Thomas," continued the bishop, " I am informed that 
you preach the epistle or gospel every Sunday to the parish- 
ioners, and that you take not the cow nor the uppermost 
cloth from your parishioners; which thing is very prejudicial 
to the churchmen. My joy, it is too much to preach every 
Sunday; for in so doing you may make the people think that 
we should preach likewise. But it is enough for you when you 
find any good epistle, or any good gospel, that setteth forth 
the rights of the holy church, to preach that, and let the rest 
be." "Truly, my lord," said the vicar, "I have read the 
New Testament, and the Old, and all the epistles and gos- 
pels, and among them all I never could find any evil epistle, 
or any evil gospel; but if your lordship will show me the good 
and the evil epistles and gospels, then I shall preach the good 
and omit the evil." "I thank God," replied the bishop, with 
great vehemence, " I have lived well these many years, 
and never knew either the Old or New Testament! Therefore, 
Dean Thomas, I will know nothing but my portuise and 
pontifical." 2 From this saying there arose a proverb which 
was commonly applied in Scotland, for many years after, 
to persons who were grossly ignorant : " Ye are like 

1 Buch. Hist. p. 219, fol. edit. 

2 " My breviary and book of ceremonies." 


the Bishop of Dunkeld, that kent neither new law nor 
auld." 1 

The fate of the vicar was decided in 1538. Having hap- 
pened to quote, on his trial, the words of Paul, "I had 
rather speak five words with my understanding than ten 
thousand in an unknown tongue," he was asked where he 
found that? "In my book whilk is in my sleeve," answered 
the vicar. Upon this the public prosecutor started up, pulled 
the New Testament out of his hand, and holding it up before 
the people cried, "Behold he has the book of heresy in his 
sleeve, whilk makes all the pley 2 in the kirk!" "Brother," 
said the vicar, "God forgive you; ye ought to say better, 
if ye pleased, than call the evangel of Jesus Christ the book 
of heresy; for I assure you, dear brother, there is nothing in 
this book but the life, latter will, and testament of our Master 
and Saviour Jesus Christ, written by the four evangelists for 
our comfort and instruction." This, however, could not 
avail him. The pope had condemned the English Bible; 
and the poor vicar, Testament and all, were burned at the 
stake. 3 

But the time had now arrived, in the all-wise providence 
of God, when the eyes of men were to be opened to the 
abominations of this mystery of iniquity. The Reformation, 
it is well known, commenced in Germany in 15 17, when the 
heroic Martin Luther declared war against indulgences ; but 
it was a considerable time before its blessed light reached 
the shores of Scotland. As we intend to confine ourselves 
to the history of the Reformation in our own country, we 
shall not enter into any general account of its rise and pro- 
gress abroad. But there is one feature of this glorious work 
which has been too much neglected by those who have 
written its history, 4 and to which, as it characterized the Re- 
formation in our own land no less than in others, we cannot 
refrain from adverting — we mean the strictly religious charade? 
of its origin. Without denying that many who took a pro 
minent part in promoting it were actuated by worldly and 
selfish motives, and without overlooking the influence of 

1 Spotswoode, p. 66; Row's MS. Hist. an. 1538. 

2 Confusion. 

3 Pitscotlie, p. 356. 

* This was written before the appearance of the admirable History of the 
Reformation, by Merle D'Aubigne\ 


secondary causes, which contributed to its advancement, 
such as the revival of learning, the invention of the art of 
printing, and the posture of political affairs in the countries 
where it was introduced — it ought never to be forgotten, that 
the reformation of religion in the church was the result of its 
revival in the souls of men. The first reformers were, with- 
out exception, men of piety and prayer — men who had 
deeply studied the Bible and their own hearts; and it was by 
discovering in the Scriptures the true doctrines of salvation 
which alone can purify the heart and pacify the conscience, 
that they were led first to see the corruptions of the Church 
of Rome, and then to seek their removal. The Reformation 
was the triumph of truth over error. It was the preaching 
of the pure gospel by the reformers, and especially the great 
doctrine of justification by faith through the righteousness of 
Christ, that gave its death-blow to the papal system. It is 
true, that had the reformers not received the support of the 
civil power, in all human probability the infant reformation 
would have been strangled at its birth, as it actually was in 
Spain and Italy, and the whole of Europe might have been 
yet lying under the dominion of antichrist. And it is a 
striking fact, that since the era of the Reformation, Protestant- 
ism has made little farther progress in Europe, and that those 
nations which refused to receive the Protestant religion con- 
tinue Popish to this day; while in those that embraced it, the 
gospel continues to flourish in proportion to the zeal with 
which it was welcomed, and the purity in which it was 
established. But though, in accomplishing his gracious 
designs, God employs earthly means, and makes use of 
events in the political world, it is not the less on that account 
the work of God. History is a record of the operations of 
divine providence; but it is also a record of human guilt and 
folly, as exhibited not only in the malicious opposition of the 
enemies of religion, but in the unworthy motives and mistaken 
policy of its professed friends. And the first lesson which 
the student of church history requires to learn, is to distin- 
guish between these two things — to remember that the work 
may be of God, though the manner of working is of man; 
and not to confound the cause of truth and righteousness 
with the follies, the errors, and mismanagements of the in- 
struments employed in advocating and advancing it. 


The first person who was honoured to carry the tidings of 
the Reformation to Scotland, and to seal them with his blood, 
was Patrick Hamilton. 1 This amiable and accomplished 
young gentleman was of noble extraction, and nearly allied 
to the royal family, being nephew of the Earl of Arran and 
of the Duke of Albany. He was destined for the Church, 
but while pursuing his studies he acquired some knowledge 
of the reformed doctrine, and with the view of obtaining 
better information he went abroad and paid a visit to Luther 
and other reformers in Germany. The result was, a deeper 
persuasion of the truth, accompanied with a strong and un- 
conquerable desire to impart to his benighted countrymen 
the beams of that saving knowledge by which his own soul 
had been enlightened. His friends, aware of the danger to 
which he would expose himself by so doing, used every argu- 
ment to dissuade him from making the attempt. But the 
motion was from God, and could not be resisted. On arriv- 
ing in Scotland about the commencement of the year 1528, 
his spirit, like that of Paul, was stirred within him, when he 
beheld the ignorance and superstition which prevailed; and 
wherever he came he denounced, in the plainest terms, the 
corruptions of the Church. His clear arguments, aided 
by his fervent piety, mild manners, and exalted rank, could 

1 Patrick Hamilton, though not the first who introduced or suffered for 
the reformed opinions in Scotland, may be considered the proto-martyr of 
the Reformation, inasmuch as he was the first who suffered in that glorious 
cause after the standard of the Reformation had been unfurled by Luther. 
Before his time, two individuals, at least, had suffered martyrdom for their 
religious opinions — James Resby, an Englishman, and scholar of Wickliffe, 
who was burned in 1422; and Paul Craw, a Bohemian, and a follower of 
Huss, who underwent the same cruel fate at St. Andrews about ten years 
afterwards. In 1494 thirty persons, chiefly gentlemen and ladies of distinc- 
tion, were accused of heretical sentiments, but conducted their defence with 
such boldness, that they were dismissed with an admonition. In 1525 there 
was an act of parliament passed, prohibiting the importation of Luther's 
books into Scotland, which, they said, had always "been clean of all sic 
filth and vice." If we may judge from the character of the Scots, who have 
been accused of being usually "wise behind the hand," it is highly probable 
that such books had already been introduced into this country. — Life of 
Knox, ii. 28. "The more the subject is investigated," says Dr. M'Crie, 
"the more clearly am I persuaded it will appear, that the opinions of Wick- 
liffe had the most powerful and extensive influence upon the Reforma- 
tion. We can trace the existence of the Lollards, in Ayrshire, from the time 
of Wickliffe to the days of George Wishart; and in Fife they were so nume- 
rous, as to have formed the design of rescuing Patrick Hamilton by force 
on the day of his execution." — Life of Melville, i. 8. 


not fail to produce a powerful sensation; and the clergy took 
the alarm. James Beaton, archbishop of St. Andrews, was 
at that time primate of the church and chancellor of the 
kingdom — a cruel and crafty man, who scrupled at no 
means, however flagitious, for effecting his purposes. Afraid 
to proceed openly against Hamilton, he advised that he 
should be decoyed to St. Andrews, on the pretext of a friendly 
conference with him about his doctrine. The open-hearted 
young man eagerly embraced the proposal, and fell into the 
snare. It is needless to dwell on the revolting consequences. 
He was easily induced, by some insidious priests, to declare 
his sentiments. At the dead hour of night he was dragged 
from his bed, taken to the castle, and after confessing his 
faith before the archbishop, was condemned to be burned at 
the stake as an obstinate heretic. On the afternoon of Friday, 
February 28, 1528, this gentle and gracious youth was led 
to the place of execution, where a stake was fastened, with 
wood, coals, powder, and other inflammable materials piled 
around it. When he came to the place, he stripped himself 
of his gown, coat, and bonnet, and giving them to a favour- 
ite servant, "These," he said, "will not profit in the fire; they 
will profit thee. After this, of me thou canst receive no com- 
modity, except the ensample of my death, which I pray thee 
to bear in mind; for albeit it be bitter to the flesh, yet is it 
the entrance into eternal life, which none shall possess that 
deny Christ before this wicked generation." When bound 
to the stake he exhibited no symptom of fear, but commended 
his soul to God, and kept his eyes steadfastly directed towards 
heaven. The executioner set fire to the train of powder, 
which however did not kindle the pile, but severely scorched 
the side of the martyr. In this situation he remained unmoved, 
till a new supply of powder was brought from the castle. 
Meanwhile, the friars who stood around him cruelly molested 
him, crying out, "Convert, heretic; call upon our Lady; say, 
Salve regina." "Depart, and trouble me not," he said, "ye 
messengers of Satan." One of them in particular, called 
Friar Campbell, rendered himself conspicuous for his rudeness 
in disturbing the last moments of the martyr. "Thou wicked 
man," said Hamilton addressing him, "thou knowest that I 
am not an heretic, and that it is the truth of God for which 
I now suffer — so much didst thou confess unto me in private 


— and thereupon I appeal thee to answer before the judgment- 
seat of Christ." At length the fire was kindled, and, amidst 
the noise and fury of the flames, he was distinctly heard pro- 
nouncing these last words: "How long, O Lord, shall dark- 
ness cover this realm? How long wilt thou suffer this tyranny 
of men? Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." 

The martyrdom of this engaging and accomplished youth 
produced a sensation very different from what his murderers 
anticipated. They expected by this bold stroke, aimed at a 
person of such high rank, to intimidate all others, and sup- 
press the rising Reformation. The effect was precisely the 
reverse. It roused the minds of men from the dead sleep 
into which they had fallen — led them to inquire into the 
causes of his death — created discussion — and ultimately, what 
Hamilton had failed to do by his living voice was accomplished 
by his cruel death. 

Knox informs us that many even in the University of St. 
Andrews began to "call in doubt what they had before held 
for a certain verity, and to espy the vanity of the received 
superstition." And he relates, in his own homely way, an 
anecdote which shows how matters stood: "Short after this," 
he says, "new consultation was taken that some should be 
burnit. A merry gentleman, named John Lindesay, familiar 
(servant) to Bishop James Beatoun, standing by when con- 
sultation was had, said, 'My lord, gif ye burn any man, except 
ye follow my counsell, ye will utterly destroy yourselves. 
Gif ye will burn them, let them be burned in how 1 cellars: 
for the reek of Mr. Patrick Hamilton has infected as many 
as it did blow upon.'" 2 The impression made by Hamilton's 
death on the popular mind was greatly aided by the fearful 
death of Friar Campbell, who had insulted him at the stake. 
This wretched man soon after went distracted, and died in 
the utmost horror of mind, with the last appeal of the martyr 
ringing in his ears. 

Notwithstanding all warning and advice, however, the 
flames of persecution were kindled throughout the country, 
and numbers suffered between the years 1528 and 1540. 
We shall select only two or three instances. The first pre- 
sents a curious illustration of the impolicy of superstition, 
and at the same time of the wonderful power of divine grace 
1 Hollow, deep. 2 Knox, p. 15. 


in qualifying for martyrdom an individual who was as unlikely 
to suffer, and who as little thought of being called to suffer 
such a death, as any one who peruses this account. In the 
history of the French Church we read of an honest country 
gentleman, who had paid little regard to any form of religion, 
but who was so pestered and annoyed by the priests with 
some unfounded suspicions of heresy, that he began first to 
inquire what heresy was, and from one step to another was 
led to suffer willingly and intelligently for a religion of which 
he had formerly known absolutely nothing. The following 
case is somewhat similar: Mr. David Stratton 1 was a gentle- 
man of property on the sea-coast of Angus. He was the 
proprietor of some fishing-boats, out of which the Bishop of 
Murray demanded tithe. Stratton, who was a man of stub- 
born disposition and rough manners, was so incensed at the 
increasing pride and covetousness of the clergy, that he 
ordered his servants to cast every tenth fish they caught into 
the sea, and sent word to the bishop that "if he wanted his 
tithe, he might come and receive it where he got the stock." 
He was forthwith summoned to answer for heresy. Heresy 
was a thing he had never dreamed of. He had hitherto been 
notorious for his contempt of all religion. But now he was 
led to make inquiry, and happily sought the acquaintance of 
John Erskine of Dun, afterwards one of the leaders of the 
Reformation, from whose conversation he derived singular 
advantage. At this time Tyndal's translation of the New 
Testament had found its way into Scotland, and was privately 
circulated with great industry. One copy supplied several 
families. At the silent hour of night they would assemble 
together in a private house, and having ascertained that there 
were no spies near them, the sacred volume was brought 
forth from its concealment, and while one read, the rest 
Listened with mute attention. One day Mr. Stratton retired 
with the young laird of Lauriston to a solitary place in the 
fields to hear the New Testament read to him (he was un- 
able to read himself); and it so happened that, in the course 
of reading, this saying of our Lord occurred, "Whosoever shall 
deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father 
which is in heaven" (Mat. x. 33). These words produced the 
most extraordinary effect on the mind of Stratton; he sud- 
1 Stratton was brother to the laird of Lauriston. — Life of Knox, i. 354. 



denly became as one enraptured or inspired; and throwing 
himself on his knees, his hands stretched out, and his eyes 
fixed for some time steadfastly towards heaven, he burst forth 
in the following strain: "O Lord, I have been wicked, and 
justly mayest thou abstract thy grace from me; but, Lord, 
for thy mercy's sake, let me never deny thee nor thy truth, 
for fear of death or corporal pains." The issue proved that 
the prayer had been heard. Being brought before the 
bishop's court at Holyrood House, he refused to recant, 
boldly defended the truth, and was sentenced to be hanged 
and burned. The execution took place at the rood of Green- 
side between Edinburgh and Leith, "to the intent," it is 
said, "that the inhabitants of Fife, seeing the fire, might be 
stricken with terror." He died triumphantly, anticipating a 
joyful immortality. 

The next case we shall notice presents an affecting proof 
of the triumph of divine grace over constitutional timidity, 
and the love of life so natural to youth. Alexander Kennedy 
was a young gentleman of liberal education, residing in 
Glasgow; he had a turn for Scottish poetry, and at the time 
we refer to he had not passed the eighteenth year of his age. 
He was apprehended along with Jerome Russell, who was of 
the order of Grayfriars, and is described by Knox as "a young 
man of meek nature, quick spirit, and of good letters." 
Kennedy, on being brought before his judges, and threatened 
with the dreadful doom of being burned alive, was at first 
inclined to recant. In a short time, however, he recovered his 
composure. The poor lad seemed all at once to have been 
strengthened from on high; and after having thanked God 
for having preserved him from apostasy, he rose from his 
knees: "Now," said he, addressing his judges, "I defy death. 
Do with me as you please; I thank God I am ready." His 
companion, Russell, though naturally mild, was roused by 
the irritating language of his persecutors. " This is your hour 
and power of darkness," he said to them; "now ye sit as 
judges, and we stand wrongfully accused: but the day will 
come when our innocence will appear, and ye shall see your 
own blindness, to your everlasting confusion. Go on, and 
fill the measure of your iniquity." On their way to the place 
of execution, Russell, observing some symptoms of depression 
in the appearance of his youthful fellow-sufferer, thus en- 


couraged him: "Brother, fear not; greater is He that is in 
us, than he that is in the world. The pain that we are to 
suffer is short, and shall be light, but our joy and consolation 
shall never have an end. Let us, therefore, strive to enter 
in to our Master and Saviour by the same strait way which 
he has trod before us. Death cannot destroy us, for it is 
already destroyed by Him for whose sake we suffer. 11 And 
so both of them, after kneeling down and praying, cheerfully 
yielded themselves to the executioners — they were fastened 
to the stake — the faggots were lighted — and their spirits as- 
cended, as it were in a chariot of fire, to the realms of ever- 
lasting glory. 

The next story is of a more harrowing description. It is 
that of a female, the wife of one Robert Lamb, at Perth, who 
suffered at the same time with her husband. Lamb's crime 
was, that he had interrupted a friar who was preaching that 
a man could not be saved without praying to the saints ; and 
the only charge against his wife was, that she refused to pray 
to the Virgin Mary when in child-birth, declaring that she 
would only pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ. For 
these crimes Lamb was condemned to be hanged, and his 
wife to be tied in a sack and drowned. The circumstances 
attending the last scene of this poor woman's life were 
sufficient to have moved any heart but that of a popish 
inquisitor. Warmly attached to her husband, she implored, 
as a last and only favour, that she might be allowed to die in 
his company. This affecting request was barbarously refused; 
but she was allowed to accompany him to the place of his 
execution. On the way she exhorted him to patience and 
constancy in the cause of Christ; and on parting with him 
she said: "Husband, be glad; we have lived together many 
joyful days; and this day on which we must die we ought to 
esteem the most joyful of all, because now we shall have joy 
for ever. Therefore I will not bid you good night, for we 
shall meet in the kingdom of heaven." After witnessing his 
death she was ordered to prepare for her own, and was 
taken for that purpose to a pool of water in the neighbour- 
hood. Here the tenderness of the mother began to manifest 
itself. She implored her neighbours to be kind to her father- 
less and motherless children; and, with a look of anguish, 
she took from her bosom the infant she was suckling, and 

1540.] THE POWER OF FAITH. 1 5 

committed it to a nurse whom she had provided. Yet all 
this did not shake her fortitude or her faith ; she rose superior 
to her sufferings, and calmly resigned herself to death. 

On hearing of the courage and constancy of these early 
martyrs of the Reformation, one cannot fail to admire the 
power of faith in the gospel of Christ — that faith under the 
strengthening influences of which, in more ancient times, 
even "women endured torture, not accepting deliverance, 
that they might obtain a better resurrection." The mental 
heroism of these sufferers closely resembles that of the prim- 
itive martyrs of Christianity, and far excels the most splendid 
and admired examples of courage recorded in Roman history. 
The conduct of the wife of poor Robert Lamb may remind 
some of the noble matron of Rome, the wife of Pcetus, who, 
when condemned to die with her husband, plunged the dag- 
ger first into her own bosom, and then, handing it to her 
husband, said with a smile, "Pcetus, it is not painful." We 
see in both the same noble contempt of death ; but, when 
more narrowly examined, how different do the cases appear ! 
Putting out of view the vast difference between the causes 
in which they suffered, the Roman lady was obliged to die ; 
she could not have escaped by making any concessions. The 
Scottish mother might have saved her life by saying a few 
words, such as " Hail Mary, queen of heaven ! " Hers was 
a voluntary sacrifice on the altar of faith and a good con- 

Our admiration of the power of divine grace in these 
worthies must increase when we consider that, at this time, 
the number of the reformed was comparatively very small — 
that the sufferers met with little sympathy from their neigh- 
bours — and that there was, as yet, no public preaching of the 
gospel in Scotland, so that it could only be from reading 
the Scriptures that any acquired the knowledge of the truth; 
and yet, in spite of these disadvantages, a single ray of that 
truth, darting from a single text, was sufficient to open their 
eyes, and, in the faith and hope of the gospel, they would 
cheerfully submit to death in the most frightful forms. 

It is true that the victims of popish cruelty in Scotland 
were few when compared with those who suffered in other 
countries; but no thanks to Popery for that! What our an- 
cestors endured was merely a sample of the bloody tragedy 


which it was now enacting in almost every nation in Europe. 
Thanks, rather, under Providence, to the stout hearts and 
stalwart arms of our reformers, who arrested its sanguinary- 
career soon after its commencement, braved its power even 
on the throne, and never ceased till they had proscribed it 
by the laws of the land. 

We may be told by some that all the cruelties of which 
we have been speaking are to be traced to the barbarism of 
the age, and to ignorance of the principles of liberty, which, 
they say, were not understood even by Protestants for many 
years afterwards. This, however, is a mere theory, unsup- 
ported by facts — the language of persons who are fond of 
reducing everything to general principles. Protestantism 
disavows, by the very right of protest which it claims for itself, 
the right of persecuting others for conscience' sake. But 
Popery, like every form of superstition, is, in its very essence 
and spirit, a system of intolerance. It aims at universal 
dominion; it denies the right of private judgment in matters 
of religion; it lays the conscience and understanding of every 
man at the feet of his priest; and, when it has once taken 
possession of his mind, it hardens the heart, and fits it for 
perpetrating atrocities which human nature, undebased by 
its influence, shudders to hear of, and shrinks from beholding. 
Our ancestors knew it better than we do; and it was one of 
their articles of indictment against it, which shows that they 
had feelings which were shocked, and a sense of human 
rights which was outraged by it — that it was "a cruel, bloody, 
and tyrannical superstition." 

How thankful ought we to feel to a kind and ill-requited 
Providence, that we have been delivered from such a system 
of oppression — that we are not called to suffer as our fore- 
fathers were for professing the gospel of Jesus Christ — that 
we are permitted to enjoy, in unmolested peace, our religious 
privileges ! If David would not drink of the water of Beth- 
lehem, because it was in his eyes "the blood of the men that 
went in jeopardy of their lives," but "poured it out unto the 
Lord," how dearly ought we to prize, and how devoutly ought 
we to improve, to the glory of God, privileges which have 
been transmitted to us at the expense of the blood of his 
dear saints ! 



The last martyrs of the Reformation — George Wishart — Walter Mill- 
Commencement of the Reformation — Scotland reformed by her nobles and 
people — Arrival of John Knox — De?nolition of the monasteries. 

In 1539 James Beaton, archbishop of St. Andrews, the 
murderer of Patrick Hamilton, died, and was succeeded in 
the primacy by his nephew, Cardinal David Beaton. This 
prelate inherited all his uncle's hostility to the reformed 
doctrine, with even a larger share of his ambition, craft, and 
cruelty. When James V. died of a broken heart, he forged 
a will in the name of the deceased monarch, appointing 
himself governor of the kingdom; and had this policy suc- 
ceeded, there can be little doubt that he might have arrested, 
to an indefinite period, the progress of the Reformation in 
Scotland. Some idea may be formed of the wholesale 
measures which this man had devised for the extirpation of 
Protestantism, as well as of the numbers of the reformed at 
this period, when it is stated, that before the death of the 
king the cardinal had presented him with a list of three 
hundred cmd sixty of the chief of the nobility and barons, 
with the Earl of Arran at their head, who were suspected of 
heresy and doomed to destruction. 1 A merciful Providence 
interfered to defeat this atrocious plot. The forgery was 
discovered; and Arran, who was friendly to the Reformation, 
was elected governor of the kingdom. 

Baffled in his ambitious designs, Beaton retreated, like 
a chafed tiger, to his castle at St. Andrews, and, taking 
the law into his own hand, he sacrificed to his vengeance all 
the Protestants who came within his reach. But the special 
object of his hatred was Mr. George Wishart, a reformed 

1 Crawfurd's Lives, p. 79. 


minister, brother to the laird of Pitarrow. All the accounts 
of this martyr transmitted to us unite in representing him as 
a person of the most amiable and venerable character. He 
is described as a tall man of dark complexion, graceful in 
person, and courteous in manners, of profound learning, and 
remarkable for humility and charity. His piety was so 
fervent, that he used to spend whole days and nights in 
prayer and meditation. As a preacher, he had a wonderful 
command over the feelings of his audience, and many were 
converted under his ministry. Wishart's popularity, however, 
was gall and wormwood to the Romish clergy, and especially 
to Beaton, who tried various plans, for some time unsuccess- 
fully, to get him decoyed into his den. Hearing of his 
success in Ayr, the cardinal sent the Bishop of Glasgow to 
apprehend him. The bishop, whom Knox calls "a glorious 
fule," 1 found the preacher surrounded by so many gentlemen, 
that he durst not execute his commission; but he took pos- 
session of the church; and the gentlemen having threatened 
to expel him by force, "Let him alone," said Wishart, who 
could not endure violence of any kind, "his sermon will not 
do mekill hurt; let us go to the mercat cross." The bishop's 
sermon, according to Knox's account, was a very harmless 
one indeed. "He preached to his jackmen, and to some 
auld boisses 2 of the town: the sum of all his sermon was, 
They say we sould preach; why not? Better late thrive 
than never thrive. Haud us still for your bishop, and we 
sail provide better the next time." 3 

In Wishart's character piety was beautifully blended with 
benevolence. He was so liberal to the poor, that he parted 
not only with his money, but even with his body-clothes, to 
supply their necessities. The town of Dundee, which was 
the first of the Scottish burghs that embraced the Reformation, 
having been visited with a severe plague in 1544, he no 
sooner heard of it than he hastened to the scene of death 
with as much earnestness as others were fleeing from it. 
"They are now in trouble, and need comfort," he said; "and 
perchance the hand of God will make them now to magnify 
and reverence that word which before, for fear of men, they 
set at light part." He was received with great joy by the 
inhabitants; sermon was intimated for the very next day; and 

1 A vain-glorious fool. 2 Old topers. 3 Knox's Hist. p. 44. 

I 545 .] GEORGE WISHART. 1 9 

as the piague was still raging in the place, he took his station 
upon the head of the East Gate, the infected standing without 
and those that were free within ; and there he preached to 
them on these aprpopriate words in the 107th psalm, "He 
sent his word and healed them;" adding, by way of para- 
phrase, "It is neither herb nor plaister, O Lord, but thy 
word heals all." "By the which sermon," says Knox, "he 
raised up the hearts of all that heard him, that they regardit 
not death, but judgit thame mair happie that sould depairt, 
than sic as sould remain behind." 

But, in truth, the life of Wishart was in greater danger from 
his persecutors than from the pestilence. One day, as he 
was descending from his elevated position after sermon, he 
observed a man standing at the foot of the stairs, and 
immediately suspecting his purpose he laid hold of his 
hand, saying, " My friend, what would you do?" taking from 
him, at the same time, a dagger, which he held concealed 
under his gown. The wretch was so confounded, that he 
confessed on the spot that he was a priest, who had been 
bribed by Cardinal Beaton to assassinate Wishart. The 
people would have torn him to pieces, but the good minister 
took the assassin in his arms, and saved his life. "No," said 
he, "he has done me no harm, but rather good; he has let 
us understand what we may fear; in times to come we will 
watch better." 

The singular promptitude and penetration displayed by 
Wishart on this occasion may be explained on ordinary 
principles. Knox himself tells us that he marked the priest, 
"because he was maist scharp of eye and judgment." But 
the following incident, which occurred soon after, is not so 
easily explained. When at Montrose, he received a letter 
purporting to come from an intimate friend who had been 
taken suddenly ill, and was anxious to see him before his 
death. Wishart set out in the company of a few friends, 
but had not proceeded above a quarter of a mile when he 
suddenly stopped, and said to them, "I am forbidden of 
God to go this journey; will some of you be pleased to ride 
to yonder place (pointing to a little hill), and see what you 
find, for I apprehend there is a plot laid against my life." 
They went to the hill and discovered some sixty horsemen 
concealed behind it, ready to intercept him. It turned out 


that the letter was a forgery of the cardinal's, and Wishart 
once more escaped; but, with a presentiment soon after 
verified, he said to his friends on their return, "I know I 
shall end my life in the hands of that bloodthirsty man ; but 
it will not be after this manner." "I know assuredly my 
travel is nigh an end," he said on another occasion, with 
something like the spirit of ancient prophecy, "but God will 
send you comfort after me. This realm shall be illuminated 
with the light of Christ's gospel, as clearly as any realm ever 
was since the days of the apostles; the house of God shall 
be built in it; yea, it shall not lack (whatsoever enemies 
shall devise to the contrary) the very copestone. Neither 
shall this be long in doing; for there shall not many suffer 
after me." 

Shortly after this Wishart was basely betrayed into the 
hands of the cardinal by the Earl of Bothwell, under a pledge 
of personal safety. He was conducted to St. Andrews, and 
after a mock trial, during which he was grossly insulted, 
mocked, and even spit upon, by his judges, he was con- 
demned to the stake as an obstinate heretic. The crimes of 
which he was accused were, such as denying auricular con- 
fession, purgatory, the mass, and other inventions of the 
Romish Church; and he defended himself with great meek- 
ness and fidelity. Of one real heresy only did his enemies 
accuse him, namely, of holding that the souls of men slept 
after death till the resurrection; and of this he was so anxious 
to clear himself, that he formally disclaimed it at the stake. 
So determined was Beaton on accomplishing his object, that 
though Arran, the governor, wrote to him to delay the trial, 
declaring that " he would not consent to his death until the 
cause was well examined, and protesting, that if the cardinal 
should do otherwise, the man's blood should be required at 
his hands," the haughty prelate, setting all authority at de- 
fiance, proceeded to carry the sentence into effect at his 
own hand. On the day of execution the guns of the castle 
were planted so as to command the street and the scaffold, 
in case of any attempt to rescue the prisoner; and the front 
tower of the palace was elegantly fitted up with cushions and 
tapestry, that there, seated at their ease, the cardinal and his 
clergy might enjoy the spectacle. That morning the devoted 
minister was invited to breakfast with the governor of the 

1546.] GEORGE WISHART. 21 

castle. He replied, " Very willingly, and so much the rather 
that I perceive you to be a good Christian, and a man 
fearing God." Bread and wine having been set upon 
the table, he said, " I beseech you, in the name of God, and 
for the love you bear to our Saviour, Jesus Christ, to be silent 
a little while, till I have made a short exhortation, and blessed 
this bread, so that I may bid you farewell." He then spoke 
about half-an-hour on the institution of the supper, and the 
death of Christ; after which, he blessed the bread and wine, 
and having tasted them himself, distributed them to the gov- 
ernor and his friends. "As for myself," he concluded, "there 
is a more bitter potion prepared for me, only because I 
have preached the true doctrine of Christ; but pray for me 
that I may take it patiently as from his hand." He was 
then brought out, and fixed to the stake with a heavy chain. 
The fire was lighted, and the powder fastened to his body 
exploded. " This flame hath scorched my body," said the 
^sufferer, " yet hath it not daunted my spirit. But he who 
from yonder high place beholdeth us with such pride, shall, 
within a few days, lie in the same as ignominiously as now 
he is seen proudly to rest himself." The fire having now 
been kindled, he was first strangled, and his body was soon 
consumed to ashes. 1 

This happened on the ist day of March, 1546. Nothing 
could be more unlikely, at the time Wishart uttered this 
memorable prediction, than that it should be fulfilled. The 
cardinal himself paid no regard to it; he dwelt securely in 
his fortified castle; the people of the town were at his com- 
mand; and he had powerful friends throughout the country. 
A late writer is so perfectly sure that our ancestors could, 
in no instance, receive premonitions of future events, that he 
maintains it to be "more probable" that Wishart was privy 
to some conspiracy against the cardinal, "than that he should 
be endowed with the spirit of prophecy." 2 But is there 
anything inconsistent with reason or religion in supposing 
that God may, on special occasions, such as in times of hot 
persecution, have granted to his faithful and prayerful ser- 
vants premonitions and forewarnings of coming events, 
beyond what could be discovered even by "an extraordinary 

1 Spotswoocle, pp. 79, 82; Pitscottie, p. 457; Knox, p. 53. 

2 M 'Gavin's edition of Scots Worthies, i. 37. 


degree of sagacious foresight?" " That the Supreme Being." 
says Dr. Cook, "may, in seasons of difficulty, thus enlighten 
his servants, cannot be doubted." To hold that this opinion 
is inconsistent with the perfection of the Holy Scriptures, 
is to mistake the matter entirely. Our worthies never pre- 
tended to be endowed with the spirit of prophecy, in the 
sense in which this is true of the ancient prophets; they did 
not lay claim to inspiration, nor require implicit faith to be 
placed in their sayings as divine; they did not propose them 
as rules of duty, nor appeal to th:m as miraculous evidences 
of the doctrines they taught. But they regarded such pre- 
sentiments as gracious intimations of the will of God, granted 
to them in answer to prayer, for their own encouragement or 
direction; and they delivered them as warnings to othersj 
leaving the truth of them to be ascertained and proved by 
the event. 

To insinuate, as some have done, that Wishart — the meek, 
the unworldly, the beneficent, the tender-hearted Wishart, 
who repeatedly interceded for the life of his enemies, prayed 
for their forgiveness at the stake, and kissed the executioner 
before he did his office — was "privy to the conspiracy" after- 
wards formed against Beaton, is the strangest exhibition of 
prejudice which modern times afford. The charge has been 
revived of late, in a more malignant spirit, by some writers 
whose sympathies seem to be all in favour of the popish clergy, 
and with whom, in estimating the justness of the accusation, 
it is apparently enough to know that Beaton was a bishop, 
and Wishart a reformer. Some idea may be formed of the 
credulity, if not the charity, of these gentlemen, when we 
mention that the whole evidence on which they proceed is a 
passage in some manuscript correspondence of the period, 
in which mention is made of "a Scotishman called Wyshert," 
who, it seems, had been employed as a sort of go-between, 
or confidential servant, in some conspiracy formed by Henry 
VIII. against the life of the cardinal! After what we have 
stated of the character of Wishart our readers may be safely 
left to judge whether fowas likely to be the person empl 
on this menial and degrading service : or whether, knowing 
that such a conspiracy had been formed, he was a man capable 
of telling it at such an awful moment, for the purpose of being 
accounted a prophet; as if, after the manner of modern for- 

1546.] GEORGE WISH ART. 23 

tune-tellers, he had first acted as a spy, and then pretended to 
predict what he had discovered! In the hands of writers 
actuated by such a spirit, or guided by such evidence, no man's 
character can be safe, and no man's memory can be sacred. 
But "the memory of the just is blessed ;" and it is consoling to 
think that, in this case, as in many others of a similar kind, 
Providence has preserved materials sufficient to vindicate 
the character of the reformer, and make the odious charge 
recoil on the heads of his accusers. 1 

The truth is, that the plot which had been concerted against 
the cardinal by Henry VIII. had completely failed, and his 
assassination was the result of a more private conspiracy 
which was formed some time after Wishart's death. This 
conspiracy, as we are informed by our historians, was first 
proposed by a hot-headed young man of the house of Rothes, 
named Norman Lesley, who was instigated by some personal 
pique against Beaton, and was heard to swear that "these 
two" (holding out his hand and dagger) "were the two priests 
that would give absolution to the cardinal." 2 With him were 
associated his brother, John Lesley, William Kirkaldy of 
Grange, James Melville of Carnbee, and some others, not 
exceeding twelve persons in all. Early on the morning 
of Saturday, 29th May, 1546, this small band surprised the 
castle of St. Andrews, turned out the attendants, burst into 
the chamber of the cardinal, and after upbraiding him with 

1 See an able and triumphant "Vindication of George Wishart the Martyr, 
against Mr. Patrick Fraser Tytler, " which appeared in the Edinburgh Chris- 
tian Monitor for 1823, vol. iii. p. 475, where the author shows the absurdity 
of supposing that a gentleman of Mr. Wishart's rank and character, the 
brother of a Scottish baron, would be designated by his friends "a Scotish- 
man called Wyshert, " and proves by direct historical testimony that this 
person could neither be the martyr nor his brother the laird of Pitarrow. 
Mr. Tytler attempted a reply in the same periodical (iv. 90), in which, how- 
ever, he does not venture to repeat his charge against Wishart, or to answer 
the arguments of his critic. More recently the charge has been revived by 
the Rev. C. J. Lyon of St. Andrews, who has been satisfactorily answered 
by the Rev. W. Lothian of the same place. In his History of Scotland 
Mr. Tytler does not venture to repeat the charge as to Wishart's share in 
the conspiracy, though he still insinuates that, from his connection with the 
conspirators against Beaton, he must have known of it; it is just possible 
that he might not! (vol. v. 417). This is pure conjecture. And to attempt 
fixing such a serious charge on the memory of this venerated martyr of the 
Reformation, merely on conjecture, without adducing a single proof of his 
implication in the plot, is altogether unworthy of the dignity of history — to 
say nothing of its impartiality. 

2 Buchanan, b. 15; Spotswoode, p. 82; Pitscottie, p. 483. 


his perfidy and cruelty, fell upon him with their swords. He 
died exclaiming, "I am a priest — fy, fy — all is gone!" The 
inhabitants of the town, awakened by the terrified inmates of 
the castle, ran to the palace, eagerly demanding a sight of 
the cardinal ; and the conspirators, in order to satisfy them, 
exposed his dead body on the very tower from which he had, 
a few months before, in savage pomp, witnessed the execution 
of George Wishart 

Far be it from us to vindicate this act of bloody revenge. 
The rude and unsettled state of the times, and the arbitrary 
violence of Beaton, who had set the example of acting in 
defiance of all law in the murder of Wishart. may palliate the 
irregularity, but cannot excuse the atrocity of the deed. 1 
Viewed as an event in providence, we may recognize in it a 
just judgment from God on a cruel persecutor; while, at the 
same time, considered as the deed of man. we condemn the 
instruments whose passions were overruled for accomplishing 
it. Beaton died unlamented. as he had lived undesired; and 
the general feeling as to the manner of his death was expressed 
in the following couplet of Sir David Lyndsay :- — 

"As for the cardinal, I grant 
He was the man we weel could want, 

And we'll forget him soon; 
And yet I think, the sooth to say, 
Although the loon is weel away, 

The deed was foully done." 

The martyrdom of Wishart did not arrest the progress of 
the Reformation, nor did the fate of Beaton stop the fur}- of 
persecution. Xew preachers, many of whom had fled from 
England on the accession of "Bloody Mary." supplied the 
place of those who had been put to death, and converts, both 

1 The History of E7igland records instances of the murder of bishops, 
much more numerous and more revolting than any similar cases in Scotland. 
The murder of Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, in the twelfth century, by 
four English barons — that of Sudbury, archbishop of York, in the next' cen- 
tury, by Wat Tyler's mob — of Watcher, bishop of Durham — Ayscoth. 
bishop of Salisbury, and others, who fell viciims to their own ambition, 
oppression, and illegal practices, might be cited to show that the assassina- 
tion of Beaton is not without its parallels in prelatic England; not to speak 
of the cold-blooded judicial murders of Archbishop Cranmer, and Bishops 
Latimer, Ridley, and Hooper. 

2 The Scottish poet, whose ingenious satirical poems contributed greatly 
to the downfal of the Romish clergy. 

1546.] SAINT GILES. 25 

from among the clergy and laity, were daily added to the 
reformed faith. The inhabitants of Edinburgh, almost in a 
body, resolved no longer to attend mass, but to make an open 
separation from the Church of Rome, an example which was 
followed by many others in town and country. In vain did 
the queen, the widow of James V., who was now regent of 
the kingdom, try to stem the torrent. The clergy sunk every 
day in public estimation, and various causes contributed to 
accelerate their downfal. Instead of setting themselves to 
reform the notorious abuses of the Church, they made an 
ostentatious display of the most puerile of her ceremonies; 
instead of prudently bending to circumstances, they rose to 
a higher pitch of arrogance than ever. The very year of 
Wishart's martyrdom Cardinal Beaton and the Archbishop of 
Glasgow had a mortal quarrel in that city, the point of dispute 
being which of their crosses should be carried foremost in a 
procession. The cross-bearers happening to meet, a scuffle 
ensued, and they pommelled each other with their crosses, 
till both were thrown to the ground. Some time after, a 
momentous controversy arose about the propriety of saying 
the pater -nc >ster to the saints. A monk called Friar Totts, in 
a sermon preached in St. Andrews at the request of some 
doctors in the university, engaged to prove that all the peti- 
tions in the Lord's prayer might, with great propriety, be 
addressed to the saints. "If we meet with an old man in 
the streets," said he, "we will say, Good morrow, father; how 
much more may we call the saints, Ou7- fathers ! And seeing 
we grant they are in heaven, we may say to every one of 
them, Our father which art in heaven," &c. This stuff might 
have gone down a few years before, but the temper of the 
times had changed; the audience could not refrain from 
laughter, and the preacher was obliged to leave the town, 
glad to escape from the persecution of the boys, who cried 
after him on the street, "Friar Paternoster!" A scene of a 
different kind occurred in the metropolis. St. Giles, it seems, 
was the patron saint of Edinburgh, and on his feast-day it 
was the custom to parade his image through the town, with 
drums, trumpets, and all sorts of musical instruments. When 
this day arrived in 1558 (just two years before the Reforma- 
tion) the clergy resolved to have it observed with all clue 
solemnity, and the queen, fearing a tumult, agreed to honour 


the scene with her presence. But, lo ! when the hour of pro- 
cession arrived, the saint was missing; some evil-disposed 
person had stolen him out of the receptacle in which he was 
usually kept. This occasioned some delay, till another image, 
of smaller dimensions, was borrowed from the Grayfriars, 
which the people, in derision, called "Young Sanct Geill." 
All now went forward peaceably till the queen retired to 
dinner, when some young fellows, provided for the purpose, 
came forward and offered to assist the bearers of the image. 
"Young Sanct Geill" was soon jostled off into the street 
and smashed in pieces. The result was an Edinburgh riot 
— no jest at any time; and the priests were glad to save 
themselves by a hasty flight. Down went the crosses; oft 
went the surplices, caps, and coronets. " Such an uproar," 
says Knox, "came never among the generation of antichrist 
in this realm before!" 1 

There was only one thing needed to seal the ruin of the 
popish clergy in Scotland — the continuance of the cruelties 
by which they endeavoured to put down the opposition they 
had raised. And, like those beasts of prey whose dying 
struggles are more formidable than their first attack, Popery 
expended the last efforts of its expiring power in a deed of 
transcendent cruelty. Walter Mill, an old decrepid priest, 
who had been condemned as a heretic in the time of Cardinal 
Beaton, but had escaped, was at last discovered by the spies 
of his successor, Archbishop Hamilton, and brought to St. 
Andrews for trial. He appeared before the court so worn 
out w r ith age and hardships, that it was not expected he 
would be able to answer the questions put to him ; but, to 
the surprise of all, he managed his defence with great spirit. 
He was condemned to the flames; but such was the horror 
now felt at this punishment, and such the general conviction 
of the innocence of the victim, that the clergy could not pre- 
vail on a secular judge to ratify the sentence, nor an individual 
in the town so much as to give or sell a rope to bind the 
martyr to the stake, so that the archbishop had to furnish 
them with a cord from his own pavilion. When commanded 
by Oliphant, the bishop's menial, to go to the stake, the old 
man, with becoming spirit, refused. "No," said he, "I will 
not go, except thou put me up with thy hand; for I am for- 
1 Knox, p. 95; Spotswoode, p. 118; Row's MS. Hist. 


bidden by the law of God to put hands on myself." The 
wretch having pushed him forward, he went up with a cheer- 
ful countenance, saying, "I will go unto the altar of God." 
"As for me," he added, when tied to the stake, his voice 
trembling with age, "I am fourscore years old, and cannot 
live long by course of nature; but a hundred better shall rise 
out of the ashes of my bones. I trust in God I shall be the 
last that shall suffer death in Scotland for this cause." So 
saying, he expired amidst the flames, on the 28th August, 
1558. He was indeed the last who suffered in that cause; 
and, as Spotswoode observes, his death was the death of 
Popery in this realm. This execution roused the horror of 
the nation to an incredible height. The citizens of St. 
Andrews marked the spot on which the martyr died by 
rearing over it an immense heap of stones; and as often as 
the priests caused it to be removed, the sullen and ominous 
memorial was restored by the next morning. The knell of 
Popery had rung; and Scotland was prepared to start up as 
one man, and shake itself free of the monster which had, for 
so many centuries, prostrated its strength, and preyed upon 
its vitals. 

As a final resource to support their sinking credit the 
priests contrived once more to get up a miracle, the last they 
attempted in Scotland. Public notice was given, that on a 
certain day, at the chapel of our Lady of Loretto, near 
Musselburgh, they intended to put the truth of their religion 
to the test, by curing a young man who had been born blind. 
A great multitude collected to witness the miracle; and there, 
sure enough, was the young man, apparently stone blind, 
accompanied by a procession of monks, who, after solemnly 
invoking the assistance of the Virgin, made him open his 
eyes, to the astonishment of the beholders. But among the 
crowd there was one Colville of Cleish, a brave gentleman 
and a good Protestant, who immediately suspected the trick. 
He took the young man home to his lodgings, and locking 
the door, prevailed upon him, partly by threats and partly by 
promises, to reveal the whole secret. It appeared that while 
in the service of the nuns of Sciennes, near Edinburgh, the 
boy had acquired the faculty of turning up the white of his 
eyes, and keeping them in that position so as to appear blind. 
The monks having come to the knowledge of this, thought 


of turning it to some account, and having kept him for some 
years concealed, so as not to be easily recognized by his old 
acquaintances, they had first sent him out to beg as a blind 
pauper, and now produced him to act his part on the occasion 
referred to. To confirm his narrative, the lad "played his 
paivie" before Colville, by "flypping up the lid of his eyes, 
and casting up the white," to perfection. Upon this, Colville 
exposed the whole story, and made the young man repeat 
his exhibition at the cross of Edinburgh, to the confusion of 
the whole fraternity of monks and friars, who would, no 
doubt, have wreaked their vengeance on their former tool, 
and made him blind enough, had not Cleish stood beside 
him with his drawn sword while he made his confession, and 
placing him, when he had done, on his own horse, carried 
him off to Fife. 1 

It is a great mistake to suppose that the Scottish Refor- 
mation originated with the common people, or in the spirit 
of rebellion. It would be much nearer the truth to say that 
Scotland was reformed by her noblemen and gentlemen. At 
both the periods of her Reformation the flower of her 
nobility took the lead; her principal reformers were men of 
superior education as well as high rank; and many of the first 
Protestant preachers were converted ecclesiastics, who con- 
tinued to officiate in the Church, after having abandoned the 
mummeries of Popery, and become genuine pastors of Christ's 
flock. And though, unfortunately, the crown was unfavour- 
able to the Reformation, it was not until every other method 
had been tried, and tried ineffectually, that the Protestant 
noblemen and gentry found it necessary to bind themselves 
by solemn oaths for mutual defence, and to hazard their lives 
in the cause of religion. 

The first ba?id of this description was formed in December, 
1557, and was subscribed by the leading nobles and gentle- 
men of the land. The demands of these reformers were at 
first exceedingly few and simple; but it is remarkable that, 
among these, even at this early stage of the Reformation, the 
most prominent place was given to the popular election of 
ministers. They requested "that public prayers, and the 
administration of the sacraments, should be celebrated by 
ministers in their mother-tongue, that all the people might 
1 Row's Hist. MS., p. 356; Life of Knox, i. 321. 


understand them ; that the election of ministers, according to 
the custom of the primitive Church, should be made by the 
people; and that they who presided over that election should 
inquire diligently into the lives and doctrines of all that were 
to be admitted." 1 The principal persons among the nobility 
and landed gentry "into whose hearts the Lord God of our 
fathers did put such a thing as this, to beautify the house of 
the Lord," and whose names deserve to be held by all Scots- 
men in everlasting remembrance, were — Archibald, earl of 
Argyle; Lord James Stewart, afterwards Earl of Murray, and 
commonly called the Good Regent, the Earl of Glencairne, 
the Earl of Morton, the Earl of Rothes, Archibald, lord of 
Lome, Lords Ochiltree, Yester, and Boyd; Sir James 
Sandilands of Calder, John Erskine of Dun, and a large 
proportion of the lesser barons. The feudal system, which 
then prevailed in Scotland, gave these noblemen and gentle- 
men the virtual command of the whole community; they 
reigned on their estates like so many princes. These were 
not the men, when once enlightened by the truth, tamely to 
submit to priestly domination. They had long been disgusted 
by the manners of the higher clergy, who, though in general 
mean or base-born persons, had claimed precedence of the 
ancient nobility, thrust themselves into places of power, and 
appropriated to themselves the greater share of the national 
wealth. On the other hand, they saw that the reformed 
preachers, who were in general the sons or relatives of persons 
of rank, were men of principle and self-denial, mainly bent 
on the promotion of the spiritual interests of their country- 
men. For some time they contented themselves with pro- 
tecting these good men from the vengeance of the prelates, 
and providing, by an act of council, that "it should be lawful 
for every one that could read to use the English version of 
the Bible, until the prelates should publish a more correct 
one" — an act which, by giving "free course to the word 
of the Lord," had great influence in promoting the Reforma- 

Hamilton, archbishop of St. Andrews, hearing that Argyll 
kept one of those ministers, Mr. John Douglas, in his castle 
as his chaplain, sent the earl a coaxing letter, in which, after 
declaring he felt "bound in conscience" to inquire into this 

1 Spotswoode, p. 169; Knox, p. 120. 


matter, and representing the danger to which he exposed 
himself and his honourable family by defection from the 
Church, he exhorted his lordship to rid himself "in some 
honest fashion " of Douglas, that perjured apostate who had 
seduced him, offering to provide him with a learned preacher, 
who, he would "lay his soul in pawn," would teach him no 
other than true doctrine. The earl's answer is respectful 
but spirited, and contains some shrewd hints which the 
archbishop could not fail to apply to himself: "Your lordship 
declares that there are delations of sundry points of heresy 
upon that man called Douglas. I have heard him teach no 
articles of heresy, but that which agrees with God's Word. 
Your lordship regards your conscience; I pray God that ye 
do so, and examine your conscience weill. He preaches 
against idolatrie; I remit to your lordship's conscience gif 
that be heresie or not. He preaches against adulterie and 
fornicatioun ; I refer that to your lordship's conscience. He 
preaches against hypocrisie; I refer that to your lordship's 
conscience. He preaches against all manner of abuses of 
Christ's sincere religion; I refer that to your lordship's con- 
science. My lord, I exhort you, in Christ's name, to weigh 
all these affairs in your conscience, and consider if it be your 
dutie, not only to thole this, but in like manner to do the 
same. Your lordship says you would take the labour to get 
me a man to instruct me in your catholick faith. God 
Almichtie send us mony of that sort, that will preache trewly, 
and naething but ane catholick universal Christian faith; for 
we Hieland rude people has mister of them (much need of 
them). And if your lordship wald get me sic a man, I sould 
provide him a corporal living, with great thanks to your lord- 
ship. And because I am able to sustean more than ane of 
them, I will request your lordship to provyde me as many 
as ye can; for the harvest is grit, and the labonraris are j 

We beg to make a remark here, once for all, on the style 
of these extracts and anecdotes. Since the introduction of 
the English dialect into our country the Scottish has been 
disused by almost all except the humbler classes of society, 
and hence has become associated in some minds with rude- 
ness and vulgarity. But at the present era of our history, 
and for many years after, the language of the court, the 
bench, and the pulpit of our kings and queens, and the finest 


ladies and gentlemen of the day, though differing Materially 
in its pronunciation from the coarse dialect ox patois which 
now prevails, was universally Scottish. This very obvious 
statement seems called for when we find such sentirn-ents as 
those we have now given actually stigmatized as " vulgar 
scurrility!" There can be no question that much of the 
disgust which some profess to feel at the sayings of our 
worthy ancestors may be traced to the mere circumstance 
that their thoughts and feelings, truly noble and refined as 
they were in themselves, and as they might have appeared 
in an English dress, were unfortunately uttered 'in their 
own mother-tongue. 

But to proceed. The nobility and gentry resolved to do 
everything in their power to suppress idolatry, and advance 
" the preaching of the evangel," as they well termed the Re- 
formation; and yet, anxious to proceed in the most orderly 
manner, presented supplications to the queen regent, humbly 
craving the reform of some of the most glaring abuses of the 
Church. The queen, however, who was a determined Papist, 
a Frenchwoman, and acting under foreign influence, instead 
of listening to these petitions, had concerted with the bishops 
to summon the reformed ministers to Edinburgh; and, in 
order to get the gentry out of the way, had issued an order 
for them to march to the border. The gentlemen of the 
west, on their way through Edinburgh, discovered the plot, 
and were so indignant that they went resolutely in a body 
to the palace, entered the queen's chamber, where they found 
her surrounded with her priests, and bitterly complained of 
the deception. Her majesty attempted to soothe them with 
fair speeches; but Chalmers of Gadgirth, a gruff old baron, 
who was very zealous in the cause, cut her short by saying, 
"Madam, we know that this is the malicious device of these 
jaivels (the bishops), and of that bastard (Hamilton, the 
archbishop) that standeth by you ; but we vow to God we 
shall make a day of it ! They oppress us and our tenants 
to feed their idle bellies; they trouble our preachers, and 
would murder them and us ! Shall we suffer this any longer? 
No, madam, it shall not be!" So saying he clapped on his 
steel bonnet, and the rest of the gentlemen followed his 
example. Alarmed for the bodily safety of the bishops, who 
were trembling from head to foot, the queen interfered, and 


sent the unceremonious gentlemen away with fair promises 
of protection to the ministers. 

These promises were not long kept. The queen, after 
dissembling a while with the reformers, at length threw off 
the ma^k, and avowed her determination to suppress the 
Reformation by force. It is often seen that, on the eve of 
some gr^at deliverance to the Church, her enemies are per 
mitted, ibefore their final overthrow, to gain a temporary 
advantage; and so it was now. The queen's brothers, the 
princes |of Lorraine, who were the most ambitious of men 
and the 'most bigoted of Papists, had formed a gigantic con- 
spiracy for dethroning Elizabeth and recovering England 
and Scotland to the dominion of Rome. For this purpose 
it was dleemed necessary to despatch French troops into our 
country/ to subdue the refractory Scots and extinguish the 
heresy which had sprung up among them. Our fathers, it 
may be| easily supposed, viewed these foreign allies with no 
small jealousy. The lords and gentlemen, taking the alarm, 
began to prepare for self-defence; but not till they had used 
every expedient, without success, to prevent matters from 
coming; to an extremity. The queen declared that, "in spite 
of then-i, all their preachers should be banished from Scotland, 
though they sould preach as weel as St. Paul;" and when 
reminctled of her former promises, she replied that "it became 
not subjects to burden their princes with promises further 
than Aey pleased to keep them." A proclamation was issued 
prohib iting any person from preaching without authority from 
the bishops; and on hearing that this proclamation was dis- 
regarded she summoned four of the preachers, Paul Methven, 
John GJhristison, William Harlow, and John Willock, to stand 
trial at ; the justiciary court of Stirling, for usurping the 
ministrerial office, and exciting sedition among the people. 
The trcial was appointed to take place on the 10th of May, 

1559- I 

Suchl was the critical state of affairs when a person sud- 
denly atppeared on the stage, the report of whose arrival in 
Scotlarsid spread a panic among the Popish clergy from which 
they nrkver recovered, and who was destined to do more for 
the cat lse of the Reformation than all the nobles of Scotland, 
with thieir armed followers, could have effected; — need I 
say thclt person was John Knox? 

1559- J° HN knox. S3 

As the life of this reformer forms the subject of a work 
with which many of the readers of these pages may be famil- 
iar, we need not dwell on his previous history. Suffice it to 
say, that John Knox was born at Gifford, a village near Had- 
dington, in the year 1505; that he was a fellow-student of the 
famous George Buchanan, who was classical tutor to James 
VI., and one of the most learned men of his age; and that 
it was not long before both Buchanan and Knox embraced 
the reformed religion, with all the ardour of youth, and all 
the firmness of strong and cultivated minds. Knox had 
formed a strong attachment to George Wishart, and waited 
constantly on his person, bearing the two-handed sword 
which was carried before him from the time that the attempt 
was made to assassinate him at Dundee. When Wishart was 
apprehended Knox insisted for liberty to accompany him; 
but the martyr dismissed him with this reply, "Nay, return 
to your bairns (meaning his pupils), and God bless you; ane 
is sufficient for a sacrifice." After the assassination of Beaton 
he retreated for safety to the castle of St. Andrews, which 
was then held by the conspirators. Knox had, before his 
conversion, entered into priest's orders; and while he remained 
in the castle he was unexpectedly called upon to officiate 
to the Protestants who had there sought refuge. But the 
castle having surrendered, he was sent, with other prisoners, 
to the galleys. Upon regaining his liberty he repaired to 
England, where he remained till the death of that good 
prince, Edward VI., when the fires of persecution, kindled 
by the bloody Mary, compelled him to flee to Geneva, and 
he accepted the charge of the English congregation in that 
city. But during all his wanderings his heart was fixed on 
his native country. With the friends of the Reformation 
there he kept up a constant correspondence; and he at last 
resolved to devote himself, at all hazards, to the work of 
emancipating Scotland from the darkness and thraldom of 
Popery. He arrived, as we have already seen, at a period 
when his presence was much required, and at a crisis for 
which his character was admirably adapted. Possessing firm 
and high-toned principle, the foundations of which were 
deeply laid in sincere piety and profound acquaintance with 
the Scriptures; endowed with talents of no common order, 
and an eloquence popular and overwhelming; ardent in his 


feelings, indefatigable in his exertions, daring and dauntless 
in his resolutions, John Knox was the man, and almost the 
only man of his time, who seemed to be expressly designed 
by the hand of Providence for achieving the lofty and adven- 
turous enterprise to which he now consecrated himself, spirit, 
and soul, and body. 

His arrival in Scotland was not long concealed from the 
clergy. On the morning after he landed at Leith a person 
came to the monastery of the Grayfriars, where the provincial 
council was sitting, with the information that John Knox was 
come from France, and had slept the last night in Edinburgh. 
The priests were panic-struck with the intelligence, the 
council was dismissed in confusion, a messenger was des- 
patched to the queen, and within a few days Knox was pro- 
claimed an outlaw and a rebel. Undismayed by this 
sentence, he did not hesitate a moment on the course he 
should pursue. He determined to present himself voluntarily 
at Stirling, where the Protestant ministers had been summoned 
to stand their trial. Having remained only a single day in 
Edinburgh, he hurried to Dundee, where he found the 
principal Protestants already assembled, with the inten- 
tion of accompanying their ministers to the place of trial, 
and avowing their adherence to the doctrines for which 
they were accused. Accompanying them to Perth, Knox 
preached a sermon in that town, in which he exposed the 
idolatry of the mass and image-worship. The audience 
had peaceably dismissed, when one of the priests, as if 
in contempt of the doctrine just delivered, began to cele- 
brate mass. A boy uttered some mark of disapprobation, 
and was struck by the priest; the boy retaliated by throwing 
a stone at his aggressor, which happened to break one of the 
images. This, in the excited state of the public mind, 
operated as a signal to some of the people who lingered on 
the spot; and in a few minutes the altar, images, and all the 
ornaments of the church were torn down and trampled under 
foot. The noise soon collected a mob, who flew, by a sud- 
den and irresistible impulse, on the monasteries; and not- 
withstanding the interposition of the magistrates, and the 
entreaties of Knox and the other ministers, the fury of the 
people could not be restrained till these costly edifices were 
reduced to a heap of smoking ruins. This tumult was quite 


unpremeditated, and confined to the lowest of the inhabitants, 
or, as Knox calls them, "the rascal multitude." The queen- 
regent, however, glad of a pretext to crush the Reformation, 
magnified this accidental riot into a designed rebellion, and 
imputing the whole blame to the Protestants, assembled an 
army to avenge the insult. 

Nothing was farther at this time from the minds of the 
reformers than to excite rebellion, or to gain their purpose 
by violent and unconstitutional means. "Cursed be they," 
was their language to her majesty, "that seek effusion of 
blood, war, or dissension. Let us possess Christ Jesus, and 
the benefit of his evangel, and none within Scotland shall be 
more obedient subjects than we shall be." They soon dis- 
covered, however, that the pledge of their allegiance was to 
be the renunciation of their religion; and that nothing would 
satisfy the queen and her advisers but the suppression of 
the Reformation by fire and sword. This brought matters 
to a crisis. When Lord Ruthven, who was sheriff and pro- 
vost of Perth, was commanded by her majesty to go home 
and suppress the reformed opinions in his jurisdiction, he 
told her very plainly, "that in what concerned their bodies 
his charge was to keep them in order, but what concerned 
their souls was neither in his commission, nor would he 
meddle with it." And Lord James Stewart, having been 
severely blamed by Francis, the husband of Mary Queen of 
Scots, for taking part with the reformed, and charged "upon 
his allegiance" to leave them, boldly replied, "that he had 
done nothing against his allegiance, but what was lawful for 
maintenance of the liberties of the country and propagation 
of the gospel, which it was no more lawful for him to aban- 
don than to deny Jesus Christ." 1 If, therefore, any confu- 
sion ensued, if our reformers were compelled to assume a 
hostile attitude, the blame must rest with those who reduced 
them to the alternative of either resisting their sovereign or 
submitting to have themselves and their country enslaved. 
Finding all their endeavours to obtain the peaceable enjoyment 
of their religion to be fruitless; perceiving that the queen, who 
had so often deceived and disappointed them, had now 
become their declared enemy — the leading Protestants, who 
now began to be called the Lords of the Congregation, saw the 

1 Lord Hemes' Hist. Memoirs, p. 37, 42. 


necessity of arming and combining in self-defence. For this 
purpose they drew up another engagement or bond, in which 
they renounced Popery, and pledged themselves to mutual 
support in the defence and promotion of the true religion. 
This bond received numerous subscriptions. And now, 
having taken their ground, and finding their numbers daily 
increasing, they saw that the only effectual method to pre- 
vent the odious chains of ecclesiastical tyranny from being 
rivetted on themselves and their posterity, was to make a 
united and determined effort to shake them off for ever. 
They demanded the reformation of the Church, and each of 
them engaged, in his own sphere, to take immediate steps 
for abolishing the Popish service, and setting up the reformed 
religion in those places where their authority extended, and 
where the people were friendly to their design. 

St. Andrews was the place fixed on for commencing these 
operations. In the beginning of June, 1559, the Earl of Ar- 
gyle and Lord James Stewart, afterwards earl of Murray, who 
was prior of the abbey of St. Andrews, made an appointment 
with Knox to meet him on a certain day in that city. Travel- 
ling along the east coast of Fife the reformer preached at 
Anstruther and Crail, setting before the people the danger 
in which the civil and religious liberties of the nation were 
placed by the invasion of foreign and mercenary troops, sent 
to enslave them by a Popish faction in France, and bidding 
them prepare themselves either to die like men, or live 
as freemen. Such was the effect of his exhortation, that 
altars, images, and all monuments of idolatry in these 
places were immediately pulled down and destroyed. The 
Archbishop of St. Andrews, apprised of his design to preach 
in that town, and apprehending similar consequences, assem- 
bled an armed force, and sent information to the lords that 
if John Knox dared to present himself in the pulpit of his 
cathedral "he should gar him be saluted with a dozen of co- 
verings. 1 whereof the most part should light on his nose." 
The noblemen having met to consult what ought to be done, 
considering that the queen, with her French troops, was lying 
at Falkland, twelve miles from St. Andrews, while they "were 
only accompanied with their quiet households," and fearing 
lest his appearance in the pulpit should lead to the sacrifice 
1 A species of fire-arms. 


of his life, and the lives of those who were determined to 
defend him, agreed that Knox should desist from preaching 
at this time, and urged him very strenuously to comply with 
their advice. The intrepid reformer, however, disdained all 
such fears, and would not listen to their solicitations. "God 
is my witness," said he, "that I never preached Christ Jesus 
in contempt of any man, or to the worldly hurt of any crea- 
ture. But to delay to preach to-morrow (unless the body be 
violently withhalden) I cannot of conscience; for in this town 
and kirk began God first to call me to the dignity of a preacher, 
from the which I was reft by the tyranny of France and 
procurement of the bishops, as ye all well enough know, and 
it is no time now to recite. This only I cannot conceal, 
which more than ane has heard me say, when the body was 
far absent fra Scotland, that my assured hope was, in open 
audience, to preach in Sanct Androis before I departed this 
life. And therefore, my lords, seeing that God, above the 
expectation of many, has brought the body to the same place, 
I beseech your honours not to stop me to present myself 
unto my brethren. And as for the fear of danger that may 
come to me, let no man be solicitous; for my life is in the 
custody of Him whose glory I seek; and therefore I cannot 
so fear their boast nor tyranny, that I will cease from doing 
my duty when God of his mercy offereth the occasion. I 
desire the hand nor weapon of no man to defend me; only I 
crave audience, which if it be denied here unto me at this 
time I must seek farther where I may have it." 

This bold reply silenced all remonstrance; and the next 
day being the Sabbath, ioth June, 1559, Knox appeared in 
the pulpit, and preached before the Lords of the Congregation 
and a numerous assembly, without experiencing the slightest 
interruption. He discoursed on the subject of our Saviour's 
ejecting the buyers and sellers from the temple, and over- 
throwing the tables of the money-changers: "Take these 
things hence: it is written, My Father's house shall be a 
house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves." 
From this he took occasion to expose the enormous corrup- 
tions introduced into the Church under the Papacy, and to 
point out what was incumbent on Christians in their different 
spheres for removing them. On the three following days 
he preached in the same place; and such was the influence 


of his doctrine, that the provost, bailies, and inhabitants 
harmoniously agreed to set up the reformed worship in the 
town; the Church was stripped of images and pictures, and 
the monasteries were pulled down. 

The demolition of the monasteries and other religious 
houses, which marked the commencement of our Reforma- 
tion, has furnished a rich topic for declamation to many, 
who refer to it as a proof of the bigotry and barbarism of our 
reformers. We allow they may have gone too far, under the 
excitement of the moment; and "can any man think," says 
honest Row, "that in such a great alteration in a kingdom 
every man did everything rightly?" But let us do them 
justice. Had the queen-regent, instead of resorting to violent 
measures to suppress the Reformation, listened to the peti- 
tions of her noblemen for inquiry into the abuses of the 
Church, or even allowed her subjects liberty to profess the 
gospel, these excesses would never have occurred. It was 
only when this liberty was denied them, and they were required 
to submit unconditionally to the will of the Popish clergy, that 
the people had recourse to this method of redress. "After 
which answer," says Sir James Balfour, "the congregation 
goes to the staitly monastry of Scone, and pulls it doun, 
and solemnly burns all the Roman trashe, as images, altars, 
and the lyke. Then proceed they fordward to Stirling, Cam- 
buskenneth, and Linlithgow, and there demolish and pull 
doun all whatsoever carried any symboll of the Roman 
harlot." 1 The churches and cathedrals, be it observed, were 
generally spared; it was only the monasteries, and places 
identified with the reigning superstition, that fell a sacrifice 
to the popular fury. And when we consider that these 
formed the strongholds of Popery, against which the nation 
was now at war, and the receptacles of a lazy, corrupt, and 
tyrannical priesthood, who had so long fattened on the sub- 
stance of a deluded people, there appears more good policy 
than some are willing to admit in the advice which John 
Knox is said to have inculcated: "Down with those crow- 
nests, else the crows will big in them again." 2 Another 
view of the matter, equally capable of defence, is suggested 
by an anecdote which he relates of a woman, who, when the 
flames of the monasteries in Perth were ascending to heaven, 

1 Annates of Scotland, i. 316. 2 Row's MS. Hist. p. 6. 


and some were lamenting their destruction, exclaimed, that 
they knew the scenes of villany and debauchery that had 
passed within these walls they would "admire the judgments 
of Heaven, in bringing these haunts of pollution to such an 
end." 1 

1 Knox, Hist. 


1560 — 1572. 

National establishment of the reformed religion — First meeting of the General 
Assembly — The First Book of Discipline — Constitution of the Church oj 
Scotland — Anecdotes of John Knox and Queen Mary — The murder oj 
the Good Regent — Death of John Knox. 

There was a striking difference between the Scottish and 
the English Reformation. In England the reigning powers 
took the lead, and the people followed, as they best might, 
in the wake of royal authority. In Scotland the people 
were converted to the Protestant faith before the civil power 
had moved a step in the cause; and when the legislature 
became friendly to the Reformation nothing remained for it 
to do but to ratify the profession which the nation had 
adopted. The consequence has been, that the Church of 
England, with all her excellencies (and they are many), has 
never ventured to advance beyond the limits prescribed by 
Queen Elizabeth; while the Scottish Church, carrying the 
legislature along with her, has made various steps in refor- 
mation — has, on more than one occasion, improved her 
standards, pointed her testimony to the times, and discarded 
from her creed and constitution everything which seemed, 
even by implication, to symbolize with the apostasy of the 
Church of Rome. 

In the month of August, 1560, when, through the friendly 
aid of England, the French troops had been expelled from 
Scotland, and when, after the queen-regent's death, a free 
parliament was assembled, Popery, as a matter of course, 
was abolished, and the Protestant religion substituted in its 
place. Considering the suddenness with which this change 
was effected the business was wisely and well conducted. 
A petition was presented to the parliament by the ministers 


and others, in the name of the people, requesting them to 
secure, by legal enactments, the profession of the true religion. 
The parliament then requested the ministers to lay before 
them a summary of Christian doctrine which they could 
prove to be agreeable to Scripture; and in the course of a 
few days the ministers presented a confession, consisting of 
twenty-five articles, which the parliament, after due examina- 
tion, formally ratified and approved. This confession agrees 
in all points with those of the other reformed churches, and 
is not materially different from the Westminster Confession 
now in use, which was afterwards adopted by the Church of 
Scotland. It was remarked, that when it was read over, in 
the audience of the whole parliament, in which there were 
several lords and bishops known to be disaffected to the 
Reformation, only three of the noblemen voted against it, 
giving no other reason for their dissent than, "We will beleve 
as our forefatheris belevit;" "the bishops spak nathing." 
Upon which the Earl-marshal, after declaring his owm ap- 
probation of the articles, protested, "that if any ecclesiastics 
should after this oppose themselves to this our Confession 
they should be entitled to no credit, seeing that, having long 
advisement and full knowledge of it, none of them is found, 
in lawful, free, and quiet parliament, to vote against it." 

This amounted, it will be observed, to a national establish- 
ment of the Protestant religion. The nation, by its rulers 
and representatives, passed from Popery to Protestantism; 
and in its civil capacity ratified (not the gospel, indeed, 
which no acts of parliament can ratify, but) the profession of 
the gospel which the people, in their religious capacities, had 
already embraced. And thus it appears that there was a 
civil establishment of the true religion in Scotland before 
there was even an established Church, for the reformed 
Church of Scotland was not as yet regularly organized, much 
less endowed. The legal recognition of the Presbyterian 
Church as an organized society was a subsequent step, and 
indeed not fully obtained till several years after this; the 
settlement of regular stipends on the ministers was still later. 
And yet, by the act of the state to which we have referred, 
the Protestant religion became the national religion of Scot- 
land. These are the plain facts; and we leave every one to 
form his own judgment on them. But if the principle of civil 


establishments of religion is to be debated at all, at this 
point must the battle begin; and the question to be decided 
is, whether it was right or wrong for the nation of Scotland 
to declare, by an act of its parliament, that Popery was 
abolished, and that Protestantism was thenceforth the national 

By the same parliament which established the Protestant 
religion another act was passed, which has been severely 
blamed, even by friends of the Reformation, prohibiting the 
celebration of mass, under severe penalties, which amounted 
in extreme cases even to death. The only apology which 
some can find for this dubious act of policy is that the 
principles of religious liberty were not then so fully under- 
stood, and that it is no wonder our ancestors carried with 
them a portion of the intolerance of the Romish Church, 
from which they had so lately escaped. Our reformers, 
however, had no idea of converting their creed into a penal 
code, or of punishing all who departed from it as heretics. 
They regarded Papists as enemies to the state, and the lead- 
ing principles of Popery as subversive of all good order in 
society. The proscription of the mass, the characteristic 
symbol of Popery, was certainly the most effectual way of 
putting down the civil nuisance. The truth is, they would 
not allow the mass to be a point of religion at all; they re- 
garded it as manifest idolatry — an opinion in which even- 
sound Protestant will coincide; but having, erroneously we 
think, conceived that the Mosaic law against idolaters was 
still binding on Christian nations, they applied the statute to 
it as a civil crime. Whatever may be thought of this inter- 
pretation of the civil law it was obviously a very different 
thing from the spirit of Popery, which, stamping the whole 
of its creed with the attribute of infallibility, and denying all 
hope of salvation to those beyond its pale, enforces all its 
dogmas with civil pains on those whom it accounts heretics. 
And that the object of our reformers was not to punish the 
persons of heretics, or religious opinions as such, but to stay 
the plague of idolatry and profaneness in the land, appears 
from two facts which we shall now state. The first is, that 
the penalties actually inflicted on "mass-mongers," as they 
were termed, were entirely of the ignominious kind usually 
allotted to persons convicted of infamous crimes, and 


intended to brand the practice as odious and disreputable. 1 
And the other fact, to which we refer with pride (and England, 
with all her boasted liberality, cannot say so much), is, that 


the sake of his religion. We hear of four priests con- 
demned to death for saying mass in Dunblane; but the 
sentence was remitted, and they were merely set in the 
pillory. Candour will ascribe this as much to the lenity and 
liberality of our Protestant ancestors, as to the reluctance of 
the Popish clergy to suffer martyrdom for conscience' sake. 
Very few of them, indeed, appear to have had much con- 
science in the matter, except on the point of their worldly 
emoluments ; and the only instance on record of their taking 
the Reformation to heart, is that of a poor priest in Cupar of 
Fife, who was so much distressed at seeing his altars and 
images demolished by the crowd, that on the following night 
he wenc and hanged himself. 

The first meeting of the General Assembly of the Church 
of Scotland was held at Edinburgh on the 20th of December, 
1560. It consisted of forty members, only six of whom 
were ministers; and its deliberations were conducted at first 
with great simplicity and unanimity. As a proof of this, it 
may be mentioned that seven different meetings of Assembly 
were held without a moderator or president. 2 It may appear 
still more extraordinary to some to be told that none were 
appointed to represent the sovereign in the General Assembly, 
as commissioner, for at least twenty years after the Refor- 
mation; though during that time there were no fewer than 
thirty-nine or forty assemblies, and though the supreme 
magistrate, especially during the regency of Murray and 
Lennox, was very friendly to the Church and her inter- 

1 " Upon the secund day of October, 1561, Archibald Dowglas, provest of 
Edinburgh, with the baillies and counsale, causit ane proclamatioun be pro- 
clameit at the croce, commanding and charging all and sundry monks, 
freris, priestis, and all utheris papists and profane persons, to pas furth of 
Edinburgh within twenty-four hours next efter following, under the pane of 
burnying of disobeyaris upon the cheik, and harling of them throw the toun 
in ane cart: at the quhilk proclamatioun the quenis grace was very com- 
movit. And the samyn day Mr. Thomas Macalyean was chosin provest of 
Edinburgh, and Archibald Dowglas dischargit, for making of the proclama- 
tioun forrsaid without the quenis advyise, togidder with all the baillies" 
(Diurnal of Occurrents in Scotland, p. 69). 

2 Life of Knox, ii. 18. 


ests. 1 At the second General Assembly there was some de- 
bate raised by Maitland of Lethington about the propriety 
of their meeting without the queen's authority. "The ques- 
tion is," said Lethington, "whether the queen alloweth such 
conventions." "If the liberty of the kirk," said a member, 
"should depend upon the queen's allowance or disallowance, 
we are assured we shall be deprived, not only of assemblies, 
but of the public preaching of the gospel." "No such 
thing," said Lethington. "Well, time will try," replied 
Knox; "but I will add, Take from us the freedom of 
assemblies, and take from us the evangel; for without assem- 
blies how shall good order and unity in doctrine be 
kept?" The greater part of the nobles and barons having 
expressed their concurrence in this sentiment, they re- 
quested her majesty's friends to inform her, that if she 
entertained any suspicion of their proceedings she might 
appoint some one to hear their deliberations ; and this matter 
being amicably settled, the Assembly convened in virtue of 
the intrinsic power granted by Christ to his Church, and con- 
cluded their work without so much as petitioning for the 
countenance of the civil power. So early did the Church of 
Scotland assert the royal prerogatives of the King of Zion. 2 

What a wonderful change had now come over the face of 
Scotland ! A few years before this idolatry was rampant, and, 
to use the words of Patrick Hamilton, "darkness covered 
this realm." Now superstition has vanished, and the light 
of truth has arisen on the mountains and valleys of our land. 
A year ago it was blasphemy to say a word against the mass ; 
now the mass itself is denounced as blasphemy. Not a 
cross, not an image, not a cowl, not a mitre is to be seen; 
and were it not for the smoking ruins of some monastery, or 
the vacant niches of a cathedral, it could hardly have been 
known by a stranger that Popery had ever existed in the 
country. Still, however, the victory was not secured. Still, 
the dignitaries of the Church retained their titles, and claimed 
all their temporal privileges. Still, though the Popish service 
was proscribed, the Protestant worship, except in a few places 
of note, was not substituted in its place. There was a sad 
dearth of preachers; the mass of the people, in town and 
country, were so poor as hardly to be able to provide for 

1 Stevenson, Introd. i. 117. 2 Caldenvood, p. 30; Knox, p. 295. 


their own subsistence; and it became a matter of indispens- 
able necessity that some means should be adopted to pro- 
vide them with religious instruction. 

Under the Papacy no regular provision had been made, 
either for the support of the poor, who were shamefully 
neglected, or for the maintenance of a working clergy. Two 
years before the Reformation a kind of proclamation was 
issued and affixed to the gates of the monasteries and other 
religious houses, in the name of "the blind, the lame, bedrals, 
widows, orphans, and other poor," complaining that the alms 
of the Christian people had been unjustly stolen from them 
by monks and friars, who are described as "haill of body, 
stark, sturdie, and abill to work;" and charging them "to 
remove furth of the hospitals which they now occupied, that 
we, the lawful proprietors thereof, may enter and enjoy the 
commodities of the kirk, which ye have wrangouslie haldin 
from us." The preaching friars were left to shift for themselves, 
and derived a miserable subsistence from the contributions 
of the faithful, while the higher clergy and the monks lived 
in luxurious ease. The reformed church, however, having 
discarded these drones and dignitaries, and depending for 
success on the preaching of the word, required funds for the 
support of a ministry equal to the spiritual need of the whole 
population; and our reformers justly considered that, after 
the poor had been provided for, they had a claim on the 
revenues of the Church for the support of such a ministry. 

Bat other and more powerful claimants for the property 
of the kirk appeared in the nobility and landed gentlemen, 
whose ancestors had swelled the revenues of the Church by 
large donations of land and money. Many years before the 
Reformation, the laird of Grange, who was treasurer to James 
V., and a secret friend of the Protestant cause, advised his 
majesty, "gif he wad do weill and be rich, to tak hame again 
to the profit of the crown, all vacant benefices, by little and 
little, as they may fall by decease of every prelate." The 
king relished the proposal so highly that, as Sir James 
Melville informs us, he determined to carry it into effect; 
and the style in which he attempted it affords a curious 
illustration of the rudeness of the times. At his first meeting 
with the prelates, "he could not contean him any langer, 
and after many sour reproofs, he said, 'Wherefore gave my 


predecessors sa mony lands and rents to the kirk? Was it 
to maintain hawks, and dogs, and harlots to a number of idle 
priests? Pack you off to your charges, and reform your own 
lives, and be not instruments of discord between my subjects 
and me. The King of England burns you, the King of Den- 
mark beheads you; but, by , I shall stick you with this 

same whinger' And therewith he drew out his dagger upon 
them, and they fled in great fear from his presence." 1 Knox 
tells us another anecdote, which shows how the nobility felt 
on this point. After a dispute between the reformers and 
some of the Popish clergy, in which the latter were so sorely 
baffled that they could give no direct answer to the argu- 
ments against the mass, the noblemen present said, "We 
have been miserably deceived heretofore; for if the mass 
may not obtain remission of sins to the quick and dead, 
wherefore were all the abbacies so richly doted with our 
temporal lands?" 

It was very natural, therefore, when the Reformation 
revealed the falsity of the pretences on which so much of their 
wealth had been obtained by the church, and the costly 
establishments of the prelates were abolished, that the landed 
gentry should claim a portion at least of the forfeited property. 
But in doing this, they showed a degree of avarice and 
rapacity hardly to be expected from persons who had taken 
such an active part in reforming the Church. Though the 
Protestant religion had been established by the law of the 
land, the Church, as we have said, was still unendowed; and 
the ministers were supported very sparingly, on the benevo- 
lence of the people, or of the gentlemen who received them 
into their houses. Knox and his brethren, perceiving how 
matters were going, and that the whole ecclesiastical property 
would soon be swallowed up, insisted that a considerable 
proportion of it should be reserved for the support of the 
poor, the founding of universities and schools, and the main- 
tenance of an efficient ministry throughout the country. At 
last, after great difficulty, the privy-council came to the deter- 
mination, that the ecclesiastical revenues should be divided 
into three parts — that two of them should be given to the 
ejected prelates during their lives, which afterwards reverted 
to the nobility; and that the third part should be divided 
1 Sir J. Melville's Memoirs, p. 63. 


between the court and the Protestant ministry. ''Well!" 
exclaimed Knox, on hearing of this arrangement, "if the end 
of this order be happy, my judgment fails me. I see two 
parts freely given to the devil, and the third must be divided 
between God and the devil. Who would have thought, that 
when Joseph ruled in Egypt, his brethren should have tra- 
velled for victuals, and have returned with empty sacks unto 
their families? O happy servants of the devil, and miserable 
servants of Jesus Christ, if, after this life, there were not hell 
and heaven I" 1 

But there was another thing that tried the temper of the 
nobility, and the patience of the reformers, as much as the 
settlement of the patrimony of the Church; and this was the 
ratification of the order, government, and discipline of the 
Church. For this purpose, in the year 1560, a commission 
was given to John Knox, with Messrs. Winram, Spotswoode, 
Row, and Douglas, to set down the heads of discipline, as 
they had already done those of doctrine. This was effected, 
and a plan of government was soon drawn up, and cordially 
approved of by the General Assembly, under the name of The 
First Book of Discipli?ie. When this book, however, was 
submitted to the privy-council, it was warmly opposed by 
some of the nobility, who dreaded that its provisions 
would interfere with their selfish plans for appropriating the 
revenues of the Church. On this account, though subscribed 
by a number of the nobility, barons, and burgesses in parlia- 
ment, it did not receive a formal ratification. But it was 
still regarded by the Church as a standard book, and contin- 
ued to regulate her practice and guide her decisions. 

The constitution of the reformed Church of Scotland, as 

1 Even this pittance, it would appear, was not fully or regularly paid to 
the ministers. Various means were taken to elude a settlement; and in 1567 
we find the General Assembly, in their instructions to their commissioners 
whom they sent to deal with the privy-council, thus expressing their disap- 
pointment: "That Satan, by his instruments, had of long time, and by many 
subtile ways, laboured to hinder the progress of true religion within this 
realm; and that now the same was in hazard to be utterly subverted, chiefly 
through the poverty of the ministers that ought to preach the word of life 
unto the people; some being compelled to leave their vocation, and betake 
them to civil callings; others so distracted through worldly cares, as they 
could not wait upon the preaching of the word so diligently as they wished. " 
To prevent this, and also to provide for the ' ' poor and indigent members of 
Christ," they entreated that the patrimony of the church should be restored 
to the just possessors. (Spotswoode, p. 209.) 


laid down in The First Book oj Discipline, was purely Presby- 
terian, and remarkably simple. It recognizes four classes 
of ordinary and permanent office-bearers — the pastor, the 
doctor, the elder, and the deacon. The two former were 
distinguished merely by the different work assigned to them 
— the pastor being appointed to preach and administer the 
sacraments, while the doctor's office was simply theological 
and academical. The elder was a spiritual officer, ordained 
to assist, in the discipline and government of the Church, 
those "who laboured in word and doctrine;" and to the 
deacon was assigned, as of old, the oversight of the revenues 
of the Church and the care of the poor. The affairs of each 
congregation were managed by the kirk-session, which was 
composed of the pastor, elders, and deacons; the weekly 
exercise, afterwards converted into the presbytery, took cog- 
nizance of those matters which concerned the neighbouring 
churches; the provincial synod attended to the wider interests 
of the churches within its bounds; and the General Assem- 
bly, which was composed of ministers and elders commis- 
sioned from the different presbyteries of the kingdom, and 
which met twice or thrice a year, attended to the general 
interests of the National Church. These were the general 
features of the system, in the formation of which it was the 
study of our reformers to imitate, as closely as possible, the 
model of the primitive churches exhibited in the New Testa- 
ment; while, in all the subordinate details of their discipline, 
they steadily kept in view the apostolic rule, " Let all things 
be done unto edification." Though shackled, in point of 
practice, by the imperfect provision made for the settlement 
of churches, and labouring under the disadvantage of not 
having obtained a civil ratification to their discipline, which 
would have settled the point at once, they declared it as a 
principle founded on the word of God, that "it appertaineth 
to the people, and to every several congregation, to elect 
their own minister." Indeed, from its very infancy, the 
Church of Scotland was, essentially and pre-eminently, the 
church of the people. Their interests were consulted in all 
its arrangements; and the people on their part, who had 
been mainly instrumental in its erection, felt deeply inter- 
ested in its preservation. They watered the roots of their 
beloved Church with their blood; and when it "waxed a 


great tree," and they were permitted to lodge under the 
shadow of its branches, they surveyed it with the fond pride 
of men who felt that they had a share in its privileges, and 
therefore a stake in its prosperity. 

Owing to the paucity of ministers, and as a temporary ex- 
pedient till presbyteries were fully organized, it was judged 
proper, after supplying the principal towns, to assign to the 
rest the superintendence of a large district, over which they 
were appointed to travel, somewhat in the character of mis- 
sionaries, for the purpose of preaching in vacant parishes, 
planting churches, and inspecting the ministers and readers 
within their bounds ; of their diligence in which services they 
were to give a report to the Assembly. These persons were 
called superintendents. With strange inconsistency, those 
very writers who taunt the Scottish Church with being 
republican in her constitution, have laid hold of this circum- 
stance as a proof that she was originally prelatical ! But in 
point of fact, these superintendents differed from other 
ministers in little else than the greater amount of labour 
allotted to them. They were the servants of the Church 
courts, and were as much amenable to them as any func- 
tionary in the excise now is to her majesty's board of com- 
missioners. They were admitted in the same manner as 
other pastors, being elected by the people and ordained by the 
ordinary ministers. They were equally subject to rebuke, 
suspension, and deposition as the rest of. the ministers of 
the Church. They could not exercise any spiritual jurisdic- 
tion without the consent of the provincial synods; and they 
were accountable to the General Assembly for the whole of 
their conduct. Nor was there anything in the appointment 
of these superintendents inconsistent with the genius and 
spirit ol presbytery — a system which, if we may so speak, 
possesses a plastic character, capable of accommodating 
itself to any country, to any form of civil government, and 
to every condition of the Church. The grand peculiarity 
of presbytery, which distinguishes it from diocesan episco- 
pacy or prelacy, lies not in the want of superintendence — for 
the pastor with his session forms the true primitive parochial 
episcopacy, while to the presbytery belongs the superinten- 
dence of the congregations within its bounds; nor does it 
consist in the equality of its orders, for it has various orders; 



nor even in the temporary and delegated precedence of one 
over the rest of his brethren, for this belongs to every mode- 
rator in a church court; but it lies in the parity of its minis- 
ters, and placing the supreme jurisdiction in a General 
Assembly, the members of which, as in our houses of parlia- 
ment and courts of justice, assume no pre-eminence in 
authority over one another. If there was any danger of 
superintendents becoming prelates, it arose from the tendency 
of human nature, in certain circumstances, to abuse powers 
conferred for the best of purposes. Our ancestors soon 
began to perceive this; and so suspicious were they of any- 
thing approaching, or likely to lead, to a lordly domination 
over the brethren, that they refused to these superintendents 
the name of bishops; and as presbyteries were set up, this 
office gradually ceased on the death of the first incumbents. 1 
Different opinions will, of course, be formed of the polity 
adopted by the Scottish Church, according to the leanings of 
individuals; and our object being not to discuss principles, 
but to state facts, we leave the reader to form his own con- 
clusions. Our reformers, it is certain, drew their plan 
immediately from the Scriptures; and, to use the words of 
Row, who had the best means of information, they "took 
not their example from any kirk in the world — no, not from 
Geneva." They have often been blamed for having swept 
away, from a morbid antipathy to Popery, not only the 
abuses and corruptions of the Church, but everything that 
was decent in its worship, and dignified in its government — 
leaving the Kirk of Scotland as bare and barren of ornament 
as her native mountains. We allow that, having satisfied 
themselves that the Church of Rome was the antichrist of 
Scripture, they were anxious to strip their establishment of 
everything that bore the least resemblance to her character- 
istic features. And they did this in conscientious obedience 
to the call, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not 
partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." 
But we deny that any point of order or doctrine was rejected 
merely because it had been held by the Romish Church. 
With respect to decency, we defy any Church to show more 

1 Life of Knox, ii. 9, 283; Row's MS. Historic p. 12. Gilbert Rule, in 
his Good Old Way, has answered all the arguments in favour of the contrary 
view of the subject, in The Fundamental Charter. 


regard than was paid by our reforming ancestors to the pre- 
cept, " Let all things be done decently and in order." And 
as to ornaments and dignifies, people's ideas of these things 
will differ, according to the views they take of what true 
ornament or dignity is. If they refer to worldly ornaments 
and dignities, of these the Reformed Church of Scotland did 
not, and would not, boast; she disclaimed them as incom- 
patible with the simplicity of Christ, and demeaning to the 
spiritual glory of His Church. But there is an " honour 
which cometh from God;" and of this distinction she was 
emulous — in this, if we may so speak, she was proud to excel 
all other churches. The basis of her constitution, of which 
we have presented an imperfect sketch, may be given in few 
words : — " One is your master, and all ye are brethren." 
Recognizing no earthly head, rejecting all earthly control, 
she stood forth the immaculate spouse of Christ; and hold- 
ing in her hand the Word of God, as the charter of her 
rights, she pointed to her exalted King, seated on the throne 
of heaven. Placed on such a footing, the ministry of the 
gospel must command respect. That it has done so, is 
testified by the fact, that while the prelates of Rome, with all 
their mitres, croziers, and surplices, sunk into general con- 
tempt, being hated by the people for their tyranny, and 
scorned by the nobles for their arrogance, the humble presby- 
terian pastor, faithfully discharging the duties of his office, 
met with respect and affection from all classes of his flock. 
And that it must continue to do so, may be augured from 
the principles on which presbyterianism is founded — the 
principles of common sense as well as of Scripture, and which, 
however they may be now slighted by some, will, by the 
blessing of God, survive the hostility that aims at their sub- 
version, and flourish in a higher state of purity than ever they 
attained in the palmiest days of presbytery, long after the 
boasted fabrics of human wisdom and human folly have 
crumbled into dust. 

The infant Reformation had scarcely been established, 
when its safety was endangered by the arrival in Scotland of 
Mary Queen of Scots. This princess having been married 
in early life to the French dauphin, was educated in the court 
of France, under the auspices of her uncle, the Cardinal of 
Lorraine, and nursed up in a blind attachment to Popery 


and arbitrary power. Every means had been employed, 
before she left France, to prejudice her mind against the 
reformers, and the religion which had been embraced by 
her subjects. The willing tool of an artful and deep-laid 
policy, she was taught that it would be the glory of her 
reign to bring back her kingdom to the obedience of Rome, 
and to co-operate with the Popish princes of the Continent, 
who had formed a plan for the universal extirpation of heresy. 
She arrived at Leith, in August, 1561, and was received by the 
good people of Edinburgh and Leith with every demonstra- 
tion of joyous loyalty. She had hardly landed, however, when 
orders were issued for the celebration of the mass in her private 
chapel. The ministers regarded this direct breach of the law 
passed by the parliament as a sure sign of the queen's resolu- 
tion to set at defiance all that had been done against Popery 
and in behalf of the reformed religion. Many, however, of 
the common people, animated by the sudden fervour of 
loyalty inspired by the presence of their young and lovely 
queen, began to justify her, and declare their resolution to 
defend her in the enjoyment of her own religion. Even the 
lords of the congregation, though at first highly incensed at her 
conduct, were no sooner admitted into her presence, than, 
soothed and flattered by the fair speeches of this insinuating 
princess, they began to cool in their religious zeal. The effects 
of this transformation on the nobility are thus curiously de- 
scribed by an old historian of the period: — " Every man, as he 
came up to court, accused them that were before him; but after 
they had remained a certain space, they came out as quiet as 
the former. On perceiving this, Campbell of Kinyeancleuch, 
a man of some humour, and zealous in the cause, said to Lord 
Ochiltree, whom he met on his way to court, ' My lord, now 
ye are come last of all; and I perceive that the fire edge is 
not yet oft" you; but I fear that, aftei the holy water of the 
court be sprinkled upon you, ye shall become as temperate 
as the rest. For I have been here now five days, and at first 
nothing was heard but — Down with the mass, hang the 
priest; but after they had been twice or thrice at the abbey 
all that fervency passed I think there be some enchant- 
ment, whereby men are bewitched.'" 

There was one man, however, whom neither the blandish- 
ments of the court, nor the defection of his friends, could 

1561.] JOHN KNOX. 53 

induce to desert his principles, or cool in his attachment to 
the cause of the Reformation. Knox, the intrepid reformer, 
perceiving that the queen was determined on prosecuting 
her designs, and that preparations were making for the cele- 
bration of mass in a more public and pompous manner than 
she had ventured on at first, took occasion to denounce the 
evils of idolatry from the pulpit, concluding his sermon with 
these remarkable words: "One mass is more fearful to me, 
than if ten thousand armed enemies were landed in any part 
of the realm, of purpose to suppress the whole religion." 
On hearing of this sermon, the queen sent for Knox, and 
held a long conference with him. She charged him with 
having taught the people to receive a religion different from 
that which was allowed by their princes. He replied, that 
true religion derived its origin and authority, not from princes, 
but from God; that princes were often most ignorant on this 
point; and referred to David, and to the primitive Christians. 
"Yea," said the queen; "but none of these men raised the 
sword against their princes." "Yet you cannot deny," said 
Knox, "that they resisted; for those that do not obey the 
commandment, do in some sort resist." "But they resisted 
not with the sword." "God, madam, had not given to them 
the power and the means." "Think you, then," said the 
queen, "that subjects, having the power, may resist their 
princes?" "If princes exceed their bounds, madam," replied 
the reformer, "no doubt they may be resisted, even by power. 
For no greater honour is to be given to kings than God has 
commanded to be given to father and mother. But the 
father may be struck with a frenzy, in which he would slay 
his children. Now, madam, if the children arise, join to- 
gether, apprehend the father, take the sword from him, bind 
his hands, and keep him in prison till the frenzy is over, 
think you, madam, that the children do any wrong? Even 
so, madam, it is with princes that would murder the children 
of God that are subject to them." 

On hearing these bold sentiments, so different from any- 
thing that she had been accustomed to, Mary stood for 
nearly a quarter of an hour silent and amazed. At length, 
addressing the reformer, she said, "Weel, then, I perceive 
that my subjects shall obey you, and not me." " God forbid," 
answered he; "but my travail is that both princes and subjects 


obey God. And think not, madam, that wrong is done to 
you when ye are willed to be subject to God; for he it is 
that subjects the people under princes: yea, God craves of 
kings that they be, as it were, foster-fathers to his Kirk, and 
commands queens to be nurses unto his people." "Yea," 
quoth she, "but ye are not the Kirk that I will nourish. I 
will defend the Kirk of Rome ; for it is, I think, the true Kirk 
of God." "Your will, madam, is no reason; neither doth 
your thought make that Roman harlot to be the true and 
immaculate spouse of Jesus Ghrist." He added, he was 
ready to prove that the Roman Church had, within five 
hundred years, degenerated farther from the purity of religion 
taught by the apostles than the Jewish Church, which crucified 
Christ, had degenerated from the ordinances God gave them 
by Moses. "My conscience is not so," said the queen. 
"Conscience, madam, requires knowledge; and I fear that 
right knowledge ye have nane." "But I have both heard 
and read." "So, madam, did the Jews, who crucified Christ 
Jesus; they read the law and the prophets, and heard them 
interpreted after their manner. Have you heard any teach 
but such as the pope and cardinals have allowed? and you 
may be assured that such will speak nothing to offend their 
own estate." The queen, after some further reasoning, told 
him, that although she was unable to contend with him in 
argument, she knew some who would answer him. "Madam," 
replied Knox, fervently, "would to God that the learnedest 
Papist in Europe were present with your grace to sustain the 
argument, and that you would wait patiently to hear the 
matter reasoned to an end!" "Well," said she, "you may 
get that sooner than you believe." "Assuredly," said Knox, 
"if ever I get that in my life, I get it sooner than I believe; 
for the ignorant Papist cannot patiently reason; and the 
learned and crafty Papist will never come to your presence, 
madam, to have the ground of their religion searched out. 
When you shall let me see the contrary, I shall grant myself 
to have been deceived in that point." Thus ended this 
extraordinary conference. On taking his leave of her majesty, 
the reformer said, "I pray God, madam, that you may be 
as blessed within the commonwealth of Scotland, as ever 
Deborah was in the commonwealth of Israel." 1 

1 Knox, p. 290; M'Crie's Life of Knox, ii. 32, &c. 


Some time after this, the queen, although she had obtained 
intelligence of the massacre of Vassy in France, where her 
uncle, the Duke of Guise, had attacked a congregation of 
Protestants peaceably assembled for worship, and butchered 
a number of them, gave a splendid ball to her foreign servants, 
at which the dancing was prolonged to a late hour. Against 
this conduct Knox had inveighed in severe terms from the 
pulpit, and he was again summoned before her majesty. In 
his defence, he declared that he had been misrepresented, 
which he would show the queen, provided she would be 
pleased to hear him repeat, as exactly as he could, what he 
had preached the day before. Mary was obliged, for once, 
to listen to a Protestant sermon. When he had finished, she 
told him, that if he heard anything about her conduct which 
displeased him, he ought to come to herself privately, and 
she would willingly listen to his admonitions. Knox easily 
saw through this proposal, which was evidently intended to 
prevent him from saying anything in public that might be 
displeasing to the court. He excused himself on the ground 
of his office; and, retiring, he jocularly observed, "Albeit at 
your grace's commandment I am heir now, yit can I not tell 
what uther men shall judge of me, that at this time of day 
am absent from my buke, and waiting upon the court." 
"Ye will not always be at your buke," said the queen, in a 
pet, and turning her back upon him. As he left the room, 
"with a reasonable merry countenance," he overheard one of 
the Popish attendants saying, "He is not afraid!" "Why 
should the pleasing face of a gentilwoman afray me?" said 
he, regarding them with a sarcastic scowl; "I have luiked in 
the face of mony angry men, and yit have not been affrayed 
above measour." 

At this time Knox was the only minister of Edinburgh, 
and there was only one place of worship — St. Giles' — which, 
however, was capable of accommodating no fewer than three 
thousand persons. We may conceive the effect produced 
on this immense multitude by the eloquent declamations, 
the fervent appeals, and overwhelming invectives, of such 
a preacher as Knox. And we need not wonder that the 
proud, the self-willed Queen of Scots, who had lived amidst 
the flatteries and pleasures of a licentious court, and who 
would not listen to the advices of her most sage and favourite 


counsellors, should have ill brooked the unsparing rebukes 
of the Scottish reformer. Their last interview was more 
stormy than the preceding, and presents so characteristic a 
view of Knox, that, familiar as it may be to many of you, 
we cannot avoid noticing it. He had deeply offended her 
majesty by protesting against her marriage with Darnley. 
"Never had prince been handled," she passionately exclaimed, 
"as she was; she had borne with him in- all his rigorous 
speeches; she had sought his favour by all means; and yet," 
said she, "I cannot be quit of you. I vow to God I shall 
be once revenged!" On pronouncing these words, she 
burst into a flood of tears. When she had composed herself, 
Knox proceeded calmly to make his defence. "Out of the 
pulpit," he said, "few had occasion to complain of him; but 
there he was not his own master, but was bound to obey 
Him who commanded him to speak plainly, and to flatter 
no flesh on the face of the earth." Mary again burst into 
tears. Her courtiers tried to mitigate her grief and indig- 
nation by all the arts of blandishment; but during this scene 
the stern and inflexible mind of the reformer displayed itself. 
He continued silent, with unaltered countenance, until the 
queen had given vent to her feelings. He then protested, 
"that he never took delight in the distress of any creature; 
that it was with great difficulty he could see his own boys 
weep when he corrected them, and far less could he rejoice 
in her majesty's tears; but seeing he had given her no just 
cause of offence, and had only discharged his duty, he was 
constrained, though unwillingly, to sustain her tears, rather 
than hurt his conscience and betray the commonwealth by 
his silence." 

This apology inflamed the queen even more than the 
offence; she ordered him instantly to leave her presence, and 
await the signification of her pleasure in an adjoining room. 
There he stood alone, none of his friends venturing to show 
him the slightest countenance. In this situation he addressed 
himself to the ladies of the court who were sitting in their 
rich dresses in the chamber: "O fair ladies, how pleasing 
were this lyfe of yours, if it sould always abyde, and then, in 
the end, that we might pass to heiven with all this gay gear ! 
But fye upon that knave Death, that will come, whether we 
will or notl" 


The subsequent history of the unfortunate Mary is too 
well known to require notice. For a short time a dark 
cloud hung over the Reformed Church. The queen by her 
alluring manners gained over a party of the nobles. The 
Earl of Murray and other Protestant noblemen were com- 
pelled to take shelter in England; mass was openly celebrated, 
and Knox, for his fidelity in warning the people against the 
consequences, was accused of high treason, and placed in 
such imminent hazard of his life, that his friends advised 
him to quit Edinburgh for a season. To crown all, Mary 
joined the league which had been planned by Catherine of 
Medicis and the Duke of Alva, those bloodiest of all per- 
secutors, and which bound her to join with them in the 
extermination of all heretics — in other words, she signed the 
death-warrant of the great mass of her own subjects, nobility, 
gentry, ministers, and commons. 1 But these gloomy appear- 
ances were soon dispelled by her own infatuated conduct. 
Disgusted with Darnley, and irritated by the assassination 
of David Rizzio, an Italian musician, whom she had made 
her secretary, 2 she abandoned herself to the counsels of the 
Earl of Bothwell, w r ho, to gain his own ambitious ends, 
plotted the murder of the king. The unfortunate Darnley 
was decoyed to Edinburgh, and lodged in a house in the 
outskirts of the town. On the morning of the ioth February, 
1567, the whole city was awakened by a tremendous explo- 
sion, which was found to proceed from the house in which 
the king was lodged having been blown up with gunpowder. 
His dead body was found lying in the neighbourhood. The 
whole kingdom was thrown into a ferment; the murder w r as 
traced to Bothwell, the queen's favourite; and the suspicions 
of all fell upon the queen as an accomplice in the barbarous 
deed. These suspicions were soon confirmed by her marriage 
with the murderer of her husband, and led to a complete 
change of government. The Protestant noblemen were 
restored; the queen was obliged to abdicate the throne, and 
ultimately to flee into England, and her infant son was 
proclaimed King of Scotland, by the title of James VI. 

1 Tytler's History of Scotland, vii. 18-20, 

2 Rizzio or Riccio was suspected, on good grounds, to be a pensioner of 
Rome. (Tytler's Hist. vii. 19.) His overbearing pride created him many 
enemies, and among others the husband of Mary, who never rested till he had 
procured his destruction. 


Poor Mary might have lived and reigned happily, had she 
not been a determined Papist. But she died the victim of 
foreign intrigues more than of her private vices. The latter 
might have been tolerated by her subjects; but she dealt in 
larger crimes, and lent herself to traffic with the religion, 
liberties, and lives of her countrymen. Her memory has 
shared a similar fate; for her injudicious admirers have 
sought to vindicate her at the expense of the reformers and 
the Reformation. In defence of these, again, others have 
been compelled to tell the truth; and the reputation of the 
beautiful but frail princess, which was too tender to admit 
of handling, has been fairly crushed in the collision. 1 

In awarding their due meed of praise to the instruments 
employed by Providence in accomplishing the Scottish refor- 
mation, it would be ungrateful to pass without notice the ser- 
vices rendered to the cause by James, earl of Murray. This 
excellent nobleman, who succeeded to the regency after the 
deposition of his sister, Queen Mary, was universally respected 
and beloved as a governor. Warmly attached to the Re- 
formation from its commencement, and evincing by his 
private virtues the sincerity of his religious professions, he 
entered office at a critical period, and it may be said that 
to his prudence and decision Scotland owed, under God, 
the preservation of the reformed religion. To the unfortu- 
nate queen, while she retained the reins of government, he 
testified all brotherly kindness; but when she had forfeited 
the regards of all good men, and the loyalty of all good 
subjects, the noble firmness with which he upheld the dignity 
of government, and prosecuted the murderers of the late 

1 The history of Queen Mary is so inseparably intertwined with that of the 
Reformation, that her honour can only be upheld and defended by sacrific- 
ing that of the reformers. Even at this distant date (1874), a Life of Mary 
has appeared in two volumes, by M. Petit of Paris, translated by M. de 
Flandre of Edinburgh, in which a complete justification of the queen is 
studiously attempted, at the expense of ruining the character of John Knox, 
George Buchanan, James, earl of Murray, and the whole race of their Pro- 
testant followers in Scotland whom her religion had consigned, but failed to 
bring to the stake. Than this specimen of posthumous martyrdom, few 
things could more clearly evince the insatiate malice of Popish vengeance, 
and its readiness on any fitting occasion to repeat itself, with the same dis- 
regard to historical justice, on all those who would venture to speak in behalf 
of the Protestant champions of three hundred years ago. Mr. P>oude, in 
his recent history of England, is the only genuine historian who has lately 
succeeded in sweeping away the ashes which had gathered around the pile 
of this Popish holocaust. 


king, exposed him to the vengeance of these mean-spirited 
assassins. One Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, whose life the 
regent had spared after it had been forfeited to the laws of 
his country, smarting under an injury which he unjustly 
ascribed to the man who pardoned him, 1 lay in wait for his 
victim as he rode through Linlithgow, and firing through a 
window, mortally wounded him, and then made his escape 
on horseback. This dastardly deed, which, in the manner 
as well as the spirit in which it was perpetrated, has nothing 
to redeem it from a resemblance to the base attempts of a 
modern Fieschi, has been actually applauded by some of 
the partisans of Mary; while they hold up their hands in 
horror at the execution of Archbishop Hamilton, who con- 
fessed on the scaffold his participation in the infamous trans- 
action ! But Murray's memory is embalmed in the page of 
impartial history. De Thou, the great French historian, 
affirms, that "he was a man without ambition, without 
avarice, incapable of doing an injury to any one, distin- 
guished by his virtue, affability, beneficence, and innocence 
of life." And Spotswoode, who must have conversed with 
many personally acquainted with Murray, says: "He was 
a man truly good, and worthy to be ranked among the best 
governors that this kingdom hath enjoyed, and therefore to 
this day honoured with the title of The Good Regent J'* 1 

Knox did not long survive the good regent, whose untimely 
death he, in common with the whole country, deeply deplored. 

1 Life of Knox, ii. 165, and note W. The story, so often retailed, oi 
Regent Murray's cruelty to Hamilton's wife, has been found out to be a 
complete forgery, resting solely on the authority of Crawfurd's Memoirs, a 
book which has been proved to be a tissue of fabrications from beginning 
to end. (See Preface to Historic of King James the Sext, Bannatyne edit.) 
Murray's assassination was the result of a plot, in which the lairds of Ferni- 
herst and Buccleugh had a chief share. One of their followers, on the day 
after the murder, and before it could be known on the borders, said, in 
reply to another who threatened him with the regent's displeasure, ' ' Tush, 
the regent is cauld as the bit in my horse's mouth." (Ban naty tie's Mem. 
p. 4, Ban. edit.) 

2 See the character of Murray cleared from the aspersions of Dr. Robert- 
son and other historians, in Life of Knox, vol. ii. note W. Mr. Tytler, 
who manifests such horror at the assassination of David Rizzio, passes the 
murder of Regent Murray without any expression of sympathy for the victim 
or abhorrence of the crime. He even attempts to anticipate any such emo- 
tions in the breasts of his readers, by repeating, as an undoubted fact, the 
story about Hamilton's wife, and reiterating the charge of betraying Nor- 
folk, which even Hume has said he could prove to be "no way dishonour- 
able." (Tytler s Hist, of Scot. vol. vii.) 


Having returned to Edinburgh, he resumed with his usual 
ardour his ministerial labours, in which he was now ably 
assisted by his colleague, John Craig. But a stroke ot 
apoplexy, from the effects of which he never fully recovered, 
and his incessant cares, brought on him prematurely the 
infirmities of age, and he was soon unable to make himself 
be heard in the large church of St. Giles. The following 
description of his personal appearance at this time, given by 
James Melville in his Diary, is exceedingly striking. "Of 
all the benefits I had that year (1571), was the coming of 
that maist notable prophet and apostle of our nation, 
Mr. John Knox, to St. Andrews. I heard him teach there 
the prophecies of Daniel. I had my pen and my little book, 
and tuk away sic things as I could comprehend. In the 
opening up of his text he was moderat, the space of an halff- 
houre; but when he enterit to application, he made me sa to 
grew and tremble, that I culd nocht hald a pen to wryt. I 
heard him oftimes utter those thretenings, in the hicht of 
their pryde, whilk the eyes of monie saw cleirlie brought to 
pass. Mr. Knox wald sumtyme come in and repose him in 
our college-yard, and call us scholars to him and bless us, 
and exhort us to know God and his wark in our country, 
and stand by the guid caus. I saw him everie day of his 
doctrine (preaching) go hulie and fear (cautiously) with a 
furring of martriks about his neck, a staff in the ane hand, 
and guid godlie Richart Ballenden, his servand, haldin up 
the other oxtar, from the abbey to the paroche kirk, and by 
the said Richart and an other servant, lifted up to the pulpit, 
whar he behovit to lean at his first entrie; bot or he had 
done with his sermon, he was sa active and vigorous, that 
he was lyk to ding that pulpit in blads and flie out of it." 1 

But the time was fast approaching when this zealous 
servant of Jesus Christ was to rest from his labours. Feeling 
his end approaching he desired that some one should read 
to him every day the 17th chapter of John's Gospel, the 53d 
of Isaiah, and a portion of the epistle to the Ephesians. To 
his colleague, elders, and deacons, assembled in his room, 
he said: "The day approaches for which I have long and 
vehemently thirsted, when I shall be released from my great 
labours and sorrows, and shall be with Christ. I know that 

1 Melville's Diary, p. 26, Ban. edit 


many have complained of my too great severity; but God 
knows that my mind was always void of hatred to the persons 
of those against whom I thundered the severest judgments." 
On Sabbath, after lying quiet for some time, he suddenly 
exclaimed, "If any be present, let them come and see the 
work of God." He then burst out into these w rapturous 
expressions: "I have been these two last nights in meditation 
on the troubled state of the Church of Christ, despised of 
the world, but precious in the sight of God. I have called 
to God for her, and commended her to her husband, Jesus 
Christ. I have fought against spiritual wickedness in heavenly 
things, and have prevailed." Having seemed to fall into a 
slumber, interrupted with heavy moans, and being asked 
why he sighed so deeply, he replied, "I have during my life 
sustained many assaults of Satan, but at present he has 
assailed me most fearfully, and put forth all his strength to 
make an end of me at once. The cunning serpent has 
laboured to persuade me that I have merited heaven and 
eternal blessedness by the faithful discharge of my ministry. 
But blessed be God, who has enabled me to quench this 
fiery dart, by suggesting to me such passages as these: 'What 
hast thou that thou hast not received?' and, 'by the grace 
of God I am what I am.'" A little after, he said, "Now, 
for the last time," touching three of his fingers as he spoke, 
"I commend my soul, spirit, and body, into thy hand, O 
Lord." He then gave a deep sigh, saying, "Now, it is 
come!" His attendants perceiving that he had lost his 
speech, requested him to give a sign that he heard them, and 
died in peace; upon which he lifted up one of his hands and 
sighing twice, expired without a struggle. He died in the 
67th year of his age, November 24, 1572. His funeral was 
attended by the Regent Morton, all the nobility in town, and 
a vast concourse of people; and when his body was laid in 
the grave Morton pronounced over it the short but emphatic 
epitaph : "There lies he who never feared the face of man!" 1 
Such was the end of one whose name, while he lived, was 
a terror to the enemies of the Reformation, and whose 
memory, since the day of his death, lay under a load of 
unmerited reproach from which it has only lately been 

1 James Melville has it thus : ' ' Here lies he that neither feared nor flat- 
tered any flesh." [Diary, p. 47.) 


rescued. In the popular histories of the day John Knox was 
held up as a fierce and gloomy bigot, equally a foe to polite 
learning and innocent enjoyment; and in his conduct towards 
the Queen of Scots, to whose winning loveliness the rugged 
reformer afforded an inviting though most invidious contrast, 
he was represented as acting the part of a barbarian. We 
have cause to rejoice that the cloud of popular prejudice 
against our reformer has been dispelled, and his character 
placed in its proper light. It has been shown, that though 
sternly upright and fearlessly courageous in the discharge of 
his duty, he was a tender-hearted and generous man; that 
his firmness as a patriot was based on the sincerest piety; 
and that the real design, as well as the effect of his measures, 
was to emancipate his country from superstition, ignorance, 
and barbarism, substituting in their place the blessings of 
education, liberty, and religion. The attempts made to 
revive the exploded calumnies of his enemies, whether by 
the sentimental admirers of Queen Mary, or by the lovers 
of despotism and apostolic succession, have met* with no 
credit or sympathy from the public; and, to their honour, 
the breasts of all true Scotsmen have once more learned to 
vibrate in unison with the manly worth, the sacred patriotism, 
and the high-toned principle of the Scottish reformer. 


1572 — 1586. 

Attempts to alter the constitution of the Church of Scotland — Tulchan 
bishops — Anecdote of Campbell of Kinyeancleuch — Andrew Melville — 
Second Book of Discipline — The National Covenant of Scotland — Ex- 
communication of Montgomery — Melville's intrepidity — Scenes between 
James VI. and the Presbyterian ministers. 

Knox at his death left the affairs of the Kirk in a very 
unsettled state. Hitherto the Church of Scotland had con- 
tended chiefly for the honour of Christ in his priestly and 
prophetical offices, against the corruptions of the Papacy; 
she was soon called to struggle for the glory of his office as 
the King of Zion, against the encroachments of civil power 
and prelatic ambition. Even before the death of Knox an 
attempt was made to alter her form of government. In the 
year 1572 a convention, composed of superintendents and 
other ministers supposed to be favourable to this design, met 
at Leith, and, through the influence of Morton, were induced 
to consent that the titles of archbishop, bishop, &c, should 
be retained; and that qualified persons among the ministers 
should be advanced to these dignities. The General Assem- 
bly, which was held the same year, condemned this innova- 
tion; but it served the design of Morton, which was, that 
these bishops should be nominally put in possession of the 
whole benefices, but should rest satisfied with a small por- 
tion to themselves, and enter into a private bargain to deliver 
up the rest to him and other noblemen who acted with 
him. The ministers who were so mean as to accept of 
bishoprics under this disgraceful and simoniacal paction, 
exposed themselves to general contempt, and were called, 
by way of derision, tulchan bishops — a tulchan being a 
calf's skin stuffed with straw, which the country people set 


up beside the cow to induce her to give her milk more 
freely. " The bishop," it was said, " had the title, but my 
lord had the milk." They were, indeed, mere phantom 
bishops, for most of them had no episcopal ordination; and 
they had no share in the government of the Church. 1 

Still, the introduction of these nominal dignitaries 
threatened the future peace of the Church; and the prospect 
of the confusion to which it might give rise embittered the 
last hours of Knox, whose "dead hand and dying voice" 
were raised against the innovation. Hume of Godscroft 
informs us that the reformer " rebuked Morton sharply 
for divers things, but especially for his labouring to set 
up and maintain the estate of bishops;" 2 and shortly before 
his death he admonished the same nobleman to maintain 
the Church of God, and his ministry; warning him that 
if he did not, "God would spoil him of all, and his end 
would be ignominy and shame" — a prediction which Morton 
acknowledged, before his execution, he had "fand true 
indeid." 3 

The history of the Church during Morton's regency, from 
1572 to 1578, presents little more than a series of struggles 
between the court and the Kirk, all occasioned by the 
attempts of the regent to intrude that spurious kind of pre- 
lacy which we have now described. For some time he 
appeared likely to obtain the advantage. The old heroes of 
the Reformation were fast dying out; and their successors, 
dreading the regent's resentment, or unwilling to show an 
example of insubordination by resisting his authority, were 
yielding up, inch by inch, the liberties of the Church. We 
have no doubt, the idea which many have formed of the 
presbyterian clergy, from the common accounts of the period, 
is, that they were a body of rude fanatics, who took delight 

1 The first tulchan bishop was Mr. John Douglas, a simple old man, whom 
Morton presented to the see of St. Andrews. "That was the first time I 
heard Mr. Patrick Constantine," says James Melville, " the week after the 
bishop was made. In his sermon he made three sorts of bishops, — my lord 
bishop, my lord's bishop, and the Lord's bishop. My lord bishop, said he, 
was in the papistry; my lord's bishop is now, when my lord gets the benefice, 
and the bishop serves for nothing but to make his title sure; and the Lord's 
bishop is the true minister of the gospel." {Diary, p. 25.) This Mr. Patrick 
Constantine was the same person with Patrick Adamson, who afterwards 
agreed to become one of "my lord's bishops." 

3 History of House of Douglas, ii. 284. 3 Bannatyne, 508. 


in opposing the civil power, and setting themselves up as 
spiritual dictators to king and subjects. The truth, however, 
as attested by history, is, that the greater part of the Scots 
ministers were a simple and facile race of men, easily 
deceived or overawed; that persons of weak or worldly minds 
were easily found, who, from fear of offending the great, or 
losing their livings, fell in with the measures of the court; 
and that, had it not been for a few active and energetic 
spirits, stirred up from time to time by a gracious Providence 
to stem the tide of defection, they would, on more than one 
occasion, have bartered away their dearest privileges without 
a struggle. Such, we are sorry to say, was the case at the 
period of which we now speak. 

An incident occurred in 1574 which displayed their 
pusillanimity as well as the grasping avarice of the regent. 
Among other plans for replenishing his coffers Morton had 
fallen on the expedient of uniting three or four parishes under 
the care of one minister. Mr. John Davidson, who afterwards 
became minister of Prestonpans, and made a considerable 
figure in the history of the Church, and who was at this time 
a young man and regent in the University of St. Andrews, 
had composed a poetical dialogue, which he called "A Con- 
ference betwixt the Clark and the Courtier," and in which he 
exposed, in terms more plain than pleasant, the mischievous 
and disreputable character of the practice. 1 Morton was 
highly incensed at this jeu d' esprit, and threatened the author 
with prosecution. The poem was presented to the General 
Assembly for their judgment, and it was too evident that his 
brethren were afraid to give it the sanction of their approba- 
tion. On this occasion the honest spirit of Campbell of 
Kinyeancleuch (the same who rated the nobility so severely 
for truckling to Queen Mary) again manifested itself. Per- 
ceiving that the Assembly were trifling in the matter, he 
turned to Mr. Davidson and said, "Brother, look for no 
answer here. God hath taken away the hearts from men, 
that they dare not justify the truth, lest they displease the 
world. Therefore, cast you for the next best." "What is 

1 Among other lines, the poem contained the following : — 
" Had gude John Knox not yet been deid, 
It had not cum unto this heid: 
Had they myntit till sic ane steir, 
He had made heavin and eirth to hear." 


that?" said Davidson. "Go home with me," replied his 
sagacious friend. "Nay," added he, seeing that the young 
minister hesitated, "ye may lawfully flee when ye are per- 
secuted." Davidson, finding that Morton was determined 
against him, accepted the kind invitation, and set off under 
the laird's protection to Kinyeancleuch. On their journey 
Campbell was seized with a severe and fatal illness. Feeling 
the near approach of death, this faithful and pious gentleman 
could not restrain his emotions when he thought of the state 
in which he left the Church of his native land. "A pack of 
traitors," he exclaimed, referring to some of the ministers, 
"have sold Christ to the regent, as manifestly as ever Judas 
did? What leal heart can contain itself ' unbur sting?" And 
he burst out into tears, accompanied with sobs and lamen- 
tations. He then stretched out his hand to Mr. Davidson, 
saying, "Take my best horse with you, and ride away with 
my blessing. The Lord bless you: gird up your loins, and 
make to your journey; for ye have a battle to fight, and few 
to take your part but the Lord only." 1 

I cannot pass this incident without giving utterance to a 
reflection which I have no doubt has already occurred to my 
readers. How seldom amongst our people in this day, and, 
alas ! how much more seldom amongst our gentry, do we meet 
with a similar example of such tender-hearted concern for 
the interests of Zion! Amidst all the professions of zeal 
that we hear, how rarely, among any class of Christians, does 
the low state of religion in the Church draw a tear from the 
eye, or a sob from the heart ! 

The state of ecclesiastical affairs in Scotland during this 
period was very singular. A species of secular and nominal 
prelacy was upheld by the court, while the Church, established 
by law, remained presbyterial. The Assembly would grant 
the bishops no authority, even as their representatives in 
parliament, and demanded that, in all matters ecclesiastical, 
they should be subject to the Church courts. This anomalous 
state of things could not last long without producing jealousies 
and dissensions. The churchmen who were raised to these 
titular dignities disdained to submit to the trial and censure 
of the General Assembly; and the Assembly, on the other hand, 
soon discovered that the continuance of bishops, even in 
1 Calderwood's MS. Hist. iv. ad. an. 1574, Adv. Libr. 


name, was dangerous to the liberties of the Church. In 
August, 1575, while they declined interfering with the civil 
arrangement regarding these prelates, the Assembly decided 
that "the name of bishop is injurie to all them that has a 
particular flock over the which he hasane peculiar charge; "and 
in several subsequent meetings various acts were passed to 
the same effect, which, says Row, "were afterwards riven out 
of the registers of the General Assembly (ye may easily judge 
by whom);" 1 yet, by God's good providence, a principal act 
was concluded, and remains undestroyed, in the year 1580, 
when it was declared that "the office of ane bishop, as it is 
now used and commonly taken within this realm, has no sure 
warrand, authority, or good ground out of the Scripture of 
God, but is brought in by folly and corruption, to the great 
overthrow of the kirk of God." 2 

While matters were in the state now described the cause 
of truth was revived, and a new spirit infused into the coun- 
cils of the church, by the arrival in Scotland of another cham- 
pion of the Reformation, whose name deserves a place next 
to that of Knox — Andrew Melville. This accomplished 
scholar and divine had been residing for ten years on the Con- 
tinent, where he enlarged the learning which he had acquired 
at home, and which had procured him a very high character 
in the literary world. Endowed with all the firmness, intre- 
pidity, and integrity of Knox, Melville was enabled, from his 
superior literary endowments, to confer lasting benefits upon 
his country, by introducing salutary reforms into its univer- 
sities, and reviving a taste for letters. He was successively 
appointed principal of the University of Glasgow, and of the 
new college, St. Andrews; and being also a minister and a 
professor of divinity, he had a right to sit in the church 
courts. It was not long before he was called to lend the 
powerful aid of his talents in the struggle of the Church against 
prelacy. And among other services he had a chief hand 
in the composition of the Second Book of Discipline, which, 
after long and deliberate discussion, was approved and 
adopted by the General Assembly in 1578. 

1 He refers to Archbishop Adam son, who obtained possession of the 
registers, and mutilated them in those places where prelacy had been con- 

2 Row's MS. Hist. ad. an. 1575; Booke of Univ. Kirk, pp. 152, 194; Ibid. 
Ban. edit. i. 342, ii. 453. 


Of this book, which, though not ratified by parliament, 
still forms a standard work in the Church of Scotland, we 
may remark that it defines the government of the Church 
still more exactly than the First Book of Disciplme, which 
was drawn up hastily, to meet the emergency of a sudden 
conversion from Popery. It traces the essential line of dis- 
tinction between civil and ecclesiastical power; declaring, 
that Jesus Christ has appointed a government in his Church 
distinct from civil government, which is to be exercised in 
his name by such officers as he hath authorized, and not by 
civil magistrates, or under their direction. Civil authority, 
they say, has for its direct and proper object the promoting 
of external peace and quietness among the subjects; ecclesi- 
astical authority, the directing of men in matters of religion 
and conscience; yet as they are both of God, and tend to 
one common end, if rightly used, viz., the glory of God and 
making men good subjects, they ought to co-operate within 
their respective spheres, and fortify, without interfering with, 
one another. They claim the right of church courts, as 
courts of Christ, to convene and settle business independent 
of the civil power. These courts were divided into sessions, 
presbyteries, synods, and general assemblies. They admit 
of no superiority of office in the church above a teaching 
presbyter, or minister of the gospel — no pastor of pastors. 
None are to be intruded into the ministry contrary to the will 
of the congregation. And among the abuses which they 
desire to see reformed by the state is lay-patronage, which 
they declare leads to intrusion, and is incompatible with 
"lawful election, and the assent of the people over whom the 
person is placed, as the practice of the apostolical and prim- 
itive kirk and good order craves." 

Of the discipline thus briefly sketched we shall only say, 
that while Presbyterians never alleged an inspired prescrip- 
tion for every part of its details, they consider its leading and 
characteristic principles to be of divine origin, or, to use the 
language of Calderwood, "to be taken, not out of the cistern 
of men's invention, but from the pure fountains of God's 
Holy Word." At the same time, its subordinate arrange- 
ments are supported by the general rules of Scripture. They 
are simple, well calculated to preserve order and unity, and 
promote the edification of the ilock of Christ; and, when 


duly observed, they will be found as much opposed to clerical 
domination as to popular confusion. 

Impolitic as Morton's administration was, it was not nearly 
so bad as that which succeeded. A party of discontented 
nobles having gained access to the young king, persuaded 
him to assume the government into his own hands. Morton 
resigned, and in 1578 James VI. ascended the throne, in the 
twelfth year of his age. This young prince had been care- 
fully brought up under the superintendence of the Countess 
of Mar and the celebrated George Buchanan, who early 
instilled into his mind the elements of learning and the prin- 
ciples of religion. It must be owned that Buchanan was not 
exactly the man fitted to inspire his royal pupil with favour- 
able ideas of Presbytery. He had become recluse and testy 
in his old age; and the impression which he left on the mind 
of James may be gathered from what the king used long 
after to say of one of his old English courtiers: "That man 
makes me always tremble at his approach; he minds me so 
of my old pedagogue." 1 Buchanan, on his part, seems to 
have entertained a very low opinion of the mental capacity 
of his pupil; for, on being reproached for having made the 
king a pedant, he is said to have replied, that "it was the 
best he could make of him." Unfortunately, at the com- 
mencement of his reign, James fell into the hands of two 
unprincipled courtiers — the one a Frenchman, whom he 
created Duke of Lennox; and the other, Captain Stewart, a 
notorious profligate, who afterwards became Earl of Arran. 
These men, besides polluting his morals, filled his head with 
the most extravagant notions of kingly power, and the 
strongest prejudices against the Scottish Church, the strict 
discipline of which, for obvious reasons, was peculiarly 
obnoxious to persons of such character. To the impressions 
then made on the vain and weak mind of James we may 
trace all the troubles which distracted his reign in Scotland." 2 

The reign of James, however, may be said to have had an 
auspicious commencement. On the 17th October, 1579, he 
made a sort of triumphal entry into Edinburgh, when he was 
received by the inhabitants with every demonstration of 
loyalty. Entering at the West Port, the houses in the streets 
through which he passed were covered with tapestry; and 
1 Irving's Life of Buchanan, p. 159. 2 M'Crie's Life of Melville, i. 257. 


various allegorical devices, in the quaint style of the times, 
were contrived to give eclat to the procession. The silver 
keys of the city were delivered to him by a young boy, 
emerging from a splendid figure of the globe, which opened 
as his majesty approached. Four beautiful damsels, repre- 
senting the four cardinal virtues, each addressed him in a 
short speech; while another lady, personating religion, invited 
him to enter the church, where he heard a discourse. 
Thereafter Bacchus, crowned with garlands, and bestriding 
a puncheon, welcomed the king to his own town ; wine was 
liberally distributed to the poor; musicians, stationed at 
different places, greeted him with the melody of their viols; 
and finally, amidst the sound of trumpets, and the shouts of 
the people, his majesty proceeded to the Abbey. 1 

In the following year the king gave a proof of his attach- 
ment to the Protestant cause, highly gratifying to his people, 
by agreeing to a solemn deed, which marks one of the most 
important eras in the history of the Church of Scotland — we 
refer to the national covenant. Before the Reformation 
several bonds or covenants had been entered into by the 
Protestant nobility, gentry, and others, in which they pledged 
themselves to defend and support the true religion against 
its enemies; and to the confederation thus solemnly cemen- 
ted may be traced much of the success which attended their 
struggles against Popery. The same practice had been 
previously adopted, with the happiest effects, by the Protes- 
tant princes of Germany and the Protestant Church of France. 
In Scotland, however, where the Protestant had become the 
established religion, this solemnity assumed the peculiar form 
of a national deed; and our ancestors were naturally led, 
by similarity of circumstances, to imitate the covenants of 
ancient Israel, when king, priests, and people, swore mutual 
allegiance to the true God. In following this practice, they 
justly considered themselves warranted by the light of nature 
and the precepts of the moral law, by the promises which 
refer to gospel times, and by the examples of holy Scripture. 

The National Covenant of Scotland was simply an abjura- 
tion of Popery, and a solemn engagement, ratified by a 
solemn oath, to support the Protestant religion. Its im- 
mediate occasion was a dread, too well founded— a dread 
1 MS. in Adv. Lib.; Caldenvood's MS. Hist. ad. an., 1579. 


from which Scotland was never entirely freed till the revolu- 
tion — of the re-introduction of Popery. It was well- 
known that Lennox was an emissary of the house of Guise, 
and had been sent over to prevail on the young king to 
embrace the Roman Catholic faith. Foreseeing that James 
would succeed to the throne of England on the death of 
Elizabeth, the crafty politicians of Rome, ever watching 
to regain their ascendency in that kingdom, saw the advan- 
tage of winning over the Scottish monarch. The pope 
himself sent him flattering letters; Jesuits and seminary 
priests were introduced into the country in disguise; and 
letters from Rome were intercepted, granting a dispensation 
to Roman Catholics to profess the Protestant faith for a time, 
provided they preserved a secret attachment to their own 
religion, and embraced every opportunity of advancing the 
papal interests. 1 Such an unprincipled conspiracy against 
true religion and civil liberty, a conspiracy so dangerous at 
all times to a country divided in religious sentiment, demanded 
a counter-combination equally strict and solemn, and led to 
the formation of the national covenant of Scotland. This 
was drawn up at the king's request, by his chaplain, John 
Craig. It consisted of an abjuration, in the most solemn and 
explicit terms, of the various articles of the Popish system, 
and an engagement to adhere to and defend the reformed 
doctrine and discipline of the reformed Church of Scotland. 
The covenanters further pledged themselves, under the same 
oath, "to defend his majesty's person and authority with our 
goods, bodies, and lives, in the defence of Christ's evangel, 
liberties of our country, ministration of justice, and punish- 
ment of iniquity, against all enemies within the realm or 
without." This bond, at first called "the king's confession," 
was sworn and subscribed by the king and his household, for 
example to others, on the 28th of January, 1581; and after- 
wards, in consequence of an order in council, and an act of 
the General Assembly, it was cheerfully subscribed by all 
ranks of persons through the kingdom; the ministers 
zealously promoting the subscription in their respective 

But while this solemn transaction had a powerful influence 
in quieting the public mind, and rivetting the attachment of 
1 Life of Melville, i. 173. Note V. 


the nation to the Protestant faith, it did not prevent the royal 
favourites from prosecuting their obnoxious measures. On 
the death of Boyd, nominal archbishop of Glasgow, Lennox 
offered the vacant see to several ministers, on condition of 
their making over to him most part of its revenues by a pri- 
vate bargain; but they had firmness to reject the base temp- 
tation. The offer was at last accepted by Robert Mont- 
gomery, minister of Stirling, a man, says Dr. Robertson, 
"vain, feeble, presumptuous, and more apt to have alienated 
the people from an order already beloved, than to reconcile 
them to one which was the object of their hatred." 1 The 
consequence was, a keen altercation between the court and 
the General Assembly, which continued for some time. 

At length, in 1582, matters were brought to a crisis. The 
king having written a letter in favour of Montgomery, the 
Assembly of that year answered it "discreetly and wisely, yet 
standing to their poynt," and were proceeding to confirm a 
sentence of suspension against Montgomery, when he rushed 
out of the house; and a messenger-at-arms appeared, who 
charged the moderator and Assembly, "under pain of rebellion 
and putting them to the horn," if they should direct summons 
against him, or in any way trouble him in his ministry, for 
aspiring to the see of Glasgow. This was a case of what has 
been called collision between the jurisdictions civil and 
ecclesiastical. The question was, not whether the individual 
ministers should obey the law of the land, but whether the 
Church should obey the state, or, in other words, yield up 
her spiritual independence. The Assembly did not hesitate 
a moment. Montgomery was summoned to their bar, to 
answer, among other offences, for having procured the charg- 
ing of the Assembly with the king's letters; and not compear- 
ing, he was laid under the awful sentence of excommunica- 

The Presbytery of Glasgow having assembled to carry this 
judgment into effect, Montgomery entered the meeting with 
the magistrates and an armed force, to stop their procedure. 
The moderator, refusing to obey the mandate, was forcibly 
pulled from his chair by the provost, who tore his beard, 
struck out one of his teeth, and committed him to the tol- 
booih. But still the presbytery continued sitting, and they 

1 Robertson's History of Scotland, book vi. 


remitted the case to the Presbytery of Edinburgh, which 
appointed Mr. John Davidson, who had now returned to 
Scotland and was settled at Liberton, to excommunicate 
Montgomery. The court stormed and threatened; but the 
intrepid young minister, at the risk of his life, which was 
menaced by Lennox, pronounced the sentence before a large 
auditory, and it was intimated on the succeeding Sabbath in 
Glasgow, Edinburgh, and many of the adjoining churches. 1 

To show the disrepute into which prelacy had fallen in 
Scotland, and the respect paid to a sentence of the ecclesi- 
astical courts, we may mention, that when Montgomery 
shortly afterwards came to Edinburgh, the inhabitants, as 
soon as they heard he was in town, rose up in a body and 
demanded that he should be expelled. Lennox attempted 
to shield him from their fury by a proclamation that all men 
should accept of him as a good Christian and a true subject. 
But the Frenchman knew not the temper of the people he 
had to deal with. They insisted that the excommunicated 
archbishop should no longer pollute the town with his 
presence, and waited for his coming out of the council-room, 
where he had sought refuge, the men armed with sticks and 
the women with every kind of missile. Montgomery was 
glad to crave the convoy of the provost out of town by a back 
passage, called the Kirk Wynd. In making his way through 
this narrow defile he was discovered and pursued by the 
mob, with "Aha, false thief! mansworn thief!" and taking 
to his heels, he narrowly escaped, at the expense of two or 
three buffets on the neck, when in the act of getting out at 
the wicket-gate of the Potterrow Port. It is said that King 
James, who was fond of all sorts of practical jokes, even at 
the expense of his friends, when he heard of this rude popular 
ebullition, "lay down on the Inch of Perth, and laughed his 
fill, saying that Montgomery was a seditious loon." 2 

In the meantime Melville was not idle. In a sermon 
preached at the opening of the General Assembly he in- 
veighed against those who had introduced what he called 
the bludie gullie of absolute power into the country, and who 
sought to erect a new popedom in the person of the king. 
Adverting to the designs of the popish powers, "This," he 

1 Row's MS. Hist. ad. an. 1582; Caldenvood's Hist. ib. 

2 Calderwood's MS. Hist. vol. v., ad. an. 1581; MS. Xotes in Adv. Lib. 


exclaimed, "will be called meddling with civil affairs; but 
these things tend to the wreck of religion, and therefore I 
rehearse them." Being afterwards employed with others to 
present a bold remonstrance to the king and council from 
the Assembly on this subject, he displayed a spirit which 
reminds us of the first reformer. Arran, looking round with 
a threatening countenance, exclaimed, "Who dare subscribe 
these treasonable articles?" "We dare," replied Melville, 
and advancing to the table he took the pen from the clerk 
and subscribed. 1 

In these contendings the ministers had hitherto received 
no support from the nobility; but in August, 1582, a few 
noblemen, disgusted with the conduct of Lennox and Arran, 
forcibly took possession of the king's person, with the view 
of delivering him and the country from their disgraceful 
influence. The nobles seem to have treated him, while he was 
in their hands, very much as they would have done a spoiled 
child, who did not know how to use his liberty without doing 
mischief to himself and all around him. On attempting to 
escape he was seized by the master of Glammis, upon which 
he burst into tears. "No matter," Glammis roughly replied, 
with his leg planted across the door, "better that bairns weep 
than bearded men." This enterprise, which is known in 
history as "the raid of Ruthven," was ill planned; and it soon 
issued in the restoration of the unworthy favourites, the 
banishment of the lords engaged in it, and troublesome con- 
sequences to the Church. The king never forgave the 
attempt, which he ascribed to the influence of the ministers, 
and which thus served to prejudice him still more than ever 
against the discipline of presbytery. It does not appear 
that the ministers had any share in the plot; but candour 
requires us to state that they imprudently involved them- 
selves, by passing an act of approval. 

For about a year, while the two worthless favourites were 
removed from court, the Church enjoyed a respite; and the 
faithful ministers who had been banished were, to the great 
joy of the people, restored to their charges. The following 
scene will illustrate the estimation in which these pastors 
were held. John Dury, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, 
had proved a great eye-sore to the court, and particularly to 

1 Life of Melville, i. 183. 

1584.] THE BLACK ACTS. 75 

the Duke of Lennox, whose open profligacies were as openly 
rebuked by the unsparing preacher. Lennox became so 
enraged, that, not content with having summoned Dury to 
the council at Dalkeith House, and procured his banish- 
ment from Edinburgh, he caused him to be attacked by 
his French cooks, who nearly murdered him, on his way 
from the council, with their spits and large knives. During 
his banishment the Assembly ordered the Presbytery of 
Edinburgh to keep his charge vacant; and after the raid of 
Ruthven Dury was restored to his flock. The people, 
hearing of his approach to the city, went out in great crowds 
to meet him at the Nether Bow. Here, with a gravity 
characteristic of Scottish mobs on much less solemn occa- 
sions, they arranged themselves in the form of a triumphal 
procession, in the midst of which the minister was conducted 
along the street — the multitude, with uncovered heads and 
loud voices, singing the 124th Psalm, in the peculiar metre, 
and in all the four parts of the old tune : — 

" Now Israel 

may say, and that truly," &c. 

The sounds of the rejoicing melody reached the ears of 
the duke, whose house stood in the High Street; and when, 
on looking out of his window, he saw his old enemy thus 
restored in triumph, "in a French passion" he tore his beard, 
imprecated curses on John Dury, hastened out of town, and 
never returned again to Scotland. 1 

The scene, however, soon changed. The Earl of Arran, 
who was really the worse of the two, was restored to favour; 
the nobles who had engaged in the raid were banished; and 
a cloud descended on the Church. In February, 1584, 
Melville was summoned before the privy council to answer 
for certain treasonable speeches he was alleged to have 
uttered in a sermon ; and finding that the unprincipled Arran 
was determined to send him to the castle of Blackness, then 
the Bastile of Scotland, he yielded to the importunities of 
his friends, and escaped from the storm by retreating to 

In May following the parliament overturned the indepen- 
dence of the Church, by ordaining that no ecclesiastical 
assembly should be held without the king's consent; that 

1 Melville's Diary, p. 95; MS. Notes in Adv. Lib. M. 8 


none were to presume to say a word, privately or publicly, 
against the proceedings of his council; that to decline the 
judgment of the king and privy council, in any matter what- 
ever, should be punished as treason ; and that all ministers 
were to acknowledge the bishops as their ecclesiastical 
superiors. These acts of parliament were called by the 
people the black acts — a name they well merited, whether we 
consider the base character of the administration that decreed 
them, the malicious hostility to the liberties of the Church 
which they betrayed, or the melancholy consequences to 
which they led. Suspecting that the ministers would publicly 
condemn these Erastian acts, orders were sent to the pro- 
vost and bailies to apprehend James Lawson and Walter 
Balcanqual, ministers of Edinburgh, in the event of their 
doing so, and pull them out of the pulpit. This, however, 
did not deter them from denouncing the acts on the following 
Sabbath ; and on Monday morning, when they were pro- 
claimed at the cross, they publicly protested against them, 
with all due formalities, in the name of the Church of Scot- 
land. Orders were immediately issued for their apprehen- 
sion ; but they saved themselves by a timely flight, and, with 
upwards of twenty other ministers who followed their exam- 
ple, took refuge in England. 

Some may be surprised to hear of the liberties then used 
by Presbyterian ministers, and perhaps disposed to blame 
them for introducing secular matters into the pulpit. But 
did not the government first set the example of intermeddling 
with what did not belong to them, when they claimed an 
Erastian power over the Church? Some individuals among 
the clergy may have used unbecoming language; but not to 
mention other considerations, it ought to be remembered 
that at that period the pulpit was almost the only organ by 
which, in the absence of a free press, public opinion was or 
could be expressed, and the ecclesiastical courts were the 
only assemblies in the nation which possessed anything like 
liberty or independence. It was the preachers who first 
taught the people to express an opinion on the conduct of 
their rulers; and the assemblies of the Church set the earliest 
example of a firm and regular opposition to the arbitrary 
measures of the court. But they stood upon higher ground 
still : for we distinctly maintain, that the ministers of Scotland 


would never have thus denounced the acts of government, 
unless these acts had infringed, directly or indirectly, on the 
liberties of the Church and the prerogatives of the King of 
Zion; and when they did so, it was from no contempt of 
royal authority, but from conscientious obedience to that 
higher power "by whom kings reign, and princes decree 
justice." In fact, the Assembly about this time passed an 
act prohibiting the use of rash and irreverent speeches in 
the pulpit against his majesty, and deposed one of their 
number for having been guilty of that offence. 

But the reader will be less surprised at the freedoms which 
the ministers took with the king, when we mention what 
freedoms the king used with the ministers. Nothing, indeed, 
pleased James better than a public disputation with the 
clergy. Having been in Edinburgh a little before this time 
he attended worship in the High Church. Balcanqual 
advanced something to show that ministers had as great 
authority as bishops; upon which James, who plumed him- 
self on his skill in divinity, and thought he could handle a 
text better than any divine in his kingdom, rose up from his 
seat, and interrupting the preacher — "Mr. Walter," said he, 
"what scripture have ye for that assertion? I am sure ye 
have no scripture so to allege." The preacher said he would 
show his majesty that he had scripture sufficient. "If ye 
prove that by scripture," said the king, "I will give ye my 
kingdom;" adding that it was the practice of the preachers 
to busy themselves about such causes in the pulpit, but he 
"knew their intent weil enouch," and would look after them. 
This interlude continued upwards of a quarter of an hour, 
after which the king sat down and patiently heard out the 

There is a similar story told of James which is less gener- 
ally known. Patrick Adamson, who had been presented to 
the see of St. Andrews, had gone up to England on pretence 
of business, and obtained episcopal consecration there in a 
clandestine manner. On his return to Scotland, however, 
he found the zeal of the Assembly and the people running so 
high against the order, that he durst not openly avow his 
prelatic character. While in this predicament the king 
Drought him from St. Andrews to Edinburgh to preach before 
him in the High Church, and accompanied him with his own 


guard, to protect him from the people. On entering, his 
majesty, finding the pulpit pre-occupied by Mr. John Cowper, 
one of the ordinary ministers, who was just beginning to offi- 
ciate, cried out, " Mr. Cowper, I will not have you preach to- 
day; I command you to come down out of the pulpit, and 
let the Bishop of St. Andrews go up and preach to me." 
"Please your majesty," said Cowper, "this is the day appointed 
to me to preach, and if it were your majesty's pleasure I 
would fain supply the place myself." By this time the king 
discovered, from the surprise and commotion of the people, 
that he had unwittingly let out the secret of Adamson's new 
dignity; and, correcting himself, he replied, "I will not hear 
you at this time; I command you to come down, and let 
Maistcr Patrick A damson go up and preach this day." "I 
shall obey, sir," said Cowper, coming down from the pulpit. 
But the whole assembly was now in uproar and confusion. 
The archbishop, surrounded with the king's be , -guard, 
mounted the pulpit, and was seen bowing with great reverence 
to his majesty; but not a word could be heard for the outcries 
and lamentations of the people, who kept running out and 
rushing in, creating the most extraordinary noise; in the 
midst of which the king, coming still lower down with his 
titles, cried out in great wrath, with an oath, "What d — 1 ails 
the people, that they will not tarry to hear a man preach?" 1 
Patrick Adamson, who was formerly introduced to our 
notice, gave great annoyance to the Church about this time, 
and no individual in the nation was more heartily disliked. 
He was known to have been the chief adviser of the measures 
for overturning the presbyterian discipline, and he had em- 
ployed his pen to traduce the characters of some of the best 
and noblest of the land who had opposed them. With all 
his learning and talents, he was of a mean-spirited and cow- 
ardly disposition. Trusting to the favour of the court, though 
he had been first suspended by the Assembly, and afterwards 
excommunicated by the Synod of Fife, he determined to 
show his contempt of these ecclesiastical censures, by preaching 
in the parish church of St. Andrews on the Sabbath after the 
latter sentence was pronounced. But somebody having 
whispered to him, as he entered the church, that a great 

1 Prynne's Antipathie of Lordly Prelacy to Regal Monarchy, p. 338; Row's 
MS. Hist. p. 80. 


crowd of gentlemen had gathered, and were threatening to 
take him out of the pulpit and hang him, he became so 
frightened that he fled for refuge to the steeple, and it re- 
quired all the persuasions and bodily strength of the bailies 
to get him "ruggit out" and carried home. 1 At last, deserted 
by the king and deprived of his annuity, he was indebted 
for support to Andrew Melville, to whom he had been a most 
bitter enemy; and falling into ill health, he earnestly petitioned 
the Synod of Fife to be released from the sentence of excom- 
munication. This was granted, upon which he presented to 
them a formal recantation of his prelatical sentiments, and 
died, in February 1592, expressing his deep regret for the part 
he had acted against the Church. 2 

The puerilities of James VI., his conceit of arbitrary power, 
and ridiculous passion for intermeddling with church affairs, 
have not escaped the notice of historians ; but as an offset to 
these failings some are fond of painting, in the most gloomy 
colours, the fanaticism and puritanic severity of the Presby- 
terians. That the Church courts did, in some instances, carry 
their notions of discipline to an excess bordering on intolerance 
can hardly be denied; and considering the rude materials 
with which they had to deal, it is not at all surprising; but 
our forefathers were far from being morose ascetics, or foes 
to innocent amusements. Military exercises, athletic games, 
archery, and music, were commonly studied and practised 
even by the gravest ministers. 3 Nor did they object to a 
little merriment, even in the midst of their most solemn 

1 Melville's Diary, p. 164. 

2 Row's MS. p. 83; Life of Melville, i. 314-316. Adamson's recantation 
may be seen in Defoe's Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, p. 196. Dr. 
M'Crie observes, that "the circumstances in which the archbishop subscribed 
his recantation necessarily throw a degree of suspicion over the sincerity with 
which it was made, and detract from its value as a testimony in favour of 
presbytery. But there is not the least reason to doubt the genuineness of 
the document itself." 

3 Speaking of John Dury's week-day exercises, James Melville says: " The 
gown was na sooner aff, and the byble out of hand fra the kirk, when on 
ged the corslet, and fangit was the hagbot, and to the fields." [Diary, p. 
26.) Of himself honest James says: " I lovit singing and playing on instru- 
ments passing weel, and wald gladly spend time where the exercise thereof 
was in the college ; for twa or three of our condisciples played fellon weill 
on the virginals, and another on the lute and githorn. I had my necessars 
honestly enough of my father for archery and goff ; but nocht a purse for 
catch pull and tavern." Private, or rather academic theatricals, of an inno- 
cent description, were likewise very common. 


assemblies. The commissioners of the Church having met 
at St. Andrews to protest against the inauguration of Adamson 
as archbishop, one came in and told them that "there was a 
corbie crouping" on the roof of the church. "That's a bad 
omen," said David Fergusson, minister of Dunfermline; "for 
inauguration is from avium garritu; the raven is omnimodo 
a black bird, and therefore ominous; and if we read rightly 
what it speaks, it will be found to be Corrupt! corrupt! 
corrupt /" 

David Fergusson, several of whose witty sayings are re- 
corded by his contemporaries, and who is described as 
"a merrie wise man," was distinguished no less by his 
intelligence and integrity than his good humour. He was 
now the oldest minister of the Church, having been one of 
the six who were honoured to plant the reformed religion in 
Scotland, and he retained his vivacity to the last. King 
James, who resided frequently at Dunfermline, used to take 
great pleasure in his conversation. Having once asked him 
how it happened that, of all other houses, that of the master 
of Gray, who was a Papist, should have been shaken by 
an earthquake during the night? "Why," said Fergusson, 
"please your majesty, why should not the deevil be allowed 
to rock his awn bairns?" "David," said James to him one 
day, "why may not I have bishops in Scotland as well as 
they have in England?" "Yea, sire," replied Fergusson, 
"ye may have bishops here; but remember, ye must make us 
all bishops, else will ye never content us. For if ye set up 
ten or twelve louns over honest men's heads, and give them 
more thousands to misspend than honest men have hundreds 
or scores, we will never all be content. We are Paul's 
bishops, sire — Christ's bishops; haud us as we are." To this 
his majesty replied by uttering a profane oath. "Sire," said 
the minister, "bau not!'' l Mr. Fergusson, who was a shrewd 
observer of character, used to forewarn his brethren, that if 
James should come to the throne of England he would not 
rest till he had introduced prelacy into Scotland; and his pre- 
diction was too soon realized. 

1 "Swear not." Row's Hist. pp. 40, 314. 

1592 — 1616. 

Re-establishment of the Presbyterian discipline in 1592 — King James ana 
Andrew Melville — Renewal of the National Covenant in 1596 — Pre- 
tended riot of ijth December — Schemes for the introduction of Prelacy 
into the Church of Scotland — The Cowrie conspiracy — Robert Bruce — 
James at the Hampton Court Conference — Aberdeen Assembly in 1605 
— Scheme of constant moderators — Extraordinary scene at Perth — 
Bishops admitted by the packed Assembly of Glasgow in 161 o — Consecra - 
tionofthe bishops — Archbishop Gladstones — Court of High Commission. 

We need not dwell on the events which led to the re- 
establishment of the Presbyterian discipline in the year 1592. 
Suffice it to say, that the signal overthrow of the Spanish 
armada, the invasion of which discovered the hostile inten- 
tion of the Popish princes of the Continent — the prudent 
counsels of Chancellor Maitland, who supplanted the king's 
unworthy favourites — and the blessing of God on the faithful 
warnings and contendings of the ministers, led to the happiest 
results. James was persuaded to desist from imposing upon 
the nation a hierarchy which none desired but himself; nay, 
he professed to have become a convert to Presbyterianism. 
At one time there can be no doubt he was sensible of its 
advantages; for, in answer to an English divine who expressed 
his astonishment why the Church of Scotland was never 
troubled with heresy, he said, evidently in good earnest, "I'll 
tell you how, man. If it spring up in a parish, there is an 
eldership to take notice of it; if it be too strong for them, the 
presbytery is ready to crush it; if the heretic prove too obsti- 
nate for them, he shall find more witty heads in the synod; 
and if he cannot be convinced there, the General Assembly, 
I'll warrant you, will not spare him." At a meeting of the 
General Assembly in 1590 he pronounced a high panegyric 
on the Church of Scotland. He "praised God that he was 


born in such a place as to be king in such a Kirk, the purest 
Kirk in the world. The Kirk of Geneva," continued his 
majesty, "keepeth Pasch and Yule. 1 What have they for 
them? They have no institution. As for our neighbour 
Kirk in England, their service is an ill-mumbled mass in 
English : they want nothing of the mass but the liftings. I 
charge you, my good people, ministers, elders, nobles, 
gentlemen, and barons, to stand to your purity; and I, for- 
sooth, as long as I brook my life and crown, shall maintain 
the same against all deadly." The future behaviour of James 
furnishes an awkward commentary on this speech, and leaves 
us too much room to question its sincerity; but at the time 
that it was delivered the Assembly received it with every 
demonstration of joy; "there was nothing heard lor a 
quarter of an hour but praising God, and praying for the 
king." 2 

Shortly after this, in June, 1592, the parliament formally 
restored presbytery, having passed an act ratifying the 
government of the Church by sessions, presbyteries, provincial 
synods, and national assemblies; the black acts were repealed; 
and, with the exception of the law of patronage, which was 
still suffered to remain in the statute-book, the jurisdiction 
and liberties of the Church were secured on what appeared 
to be the most stable footing against all future aggressions. 3 
This act, which still continues the legal charter of the Church 
of Scotland, has been always regarded by Presbyterians as a 
great step in the national Reformation. It was never, indeed, 
viewed as the basis of her ecclesiastical constitution, which 
is to be found in her Confession of Faith and Books of Dis- 
cipline; but it was a clear civil recognition and ratification ot 
that constitution, giving her the advantage of legal ground, 
sanctioning her liberties, and reducing within proper bounds 
the prerogatives of the crown; and had the Church been 
remiss in exertions to obtain such a settlement, or declined 
to accept of it, she would certainly have acted a part equally 
foolish and criminal. The question was, whether Presbytery 
or Prelacy should be the established form; and a refusal on 
the part of the Presbyterians of an establishment, crippled as 

1 Easter and Christmas. 2 Calderwood, Pref. iv. p. 256. 

3 Act for abolishing of the acts contrair to the trew religion. Act Pari. Jac. 
vi. Jan. 1592. 


it was with certain conditions from which they were resolved 
to seek deliverance, would have been equivalent, at that 
time, to surrendering their liberties into the hands of an 
overbearing monarch, who was quite prepared, in such a case, 
to place the whole country under an arbitrary hierarchy. As 
it was, this important act was not obtained without a struggle; 
the royal consent was given with reluctance; and the repre- 
sentatives of the Church, who were waiting for it with trembl- 
ing anxiety, were not relieved from their fears till they heard 
it proclaimed at the cross of Edinburgh. 1 

The Church of Scotland did not long enjoy this civil estab- 
lishment in peace. She soon became involved in troubles 
arising from the dubious and vacillating policy of the king. 
Although a desperate popish plot for the extirpation of the 
Protestant religion, concerted by the King of Spain, and 
headed in Scotland by the Earls of Huntly, Angus, and Errol, 
had been discovered in the beginning of 1593 — though 
Jesuits were flocking into the country, and murders had been 
committed on some eminent Protestants, James, either from 
motives of policy or from personal fear, because, as he used 
to say, "the Papists were dexterous king-killers," 2 could not 
be prevailed upon to act a decided part against the traitors. 
The popish lords were no sooner proclaimed rebels than 
the declaration was withdrawn, and some of them were even 
admitted to court. Against these proceedings the clergy 
remonstrated with the utmost boldness, both in the pulpit 
and ecclesiastical assemblies. "The king," says Sir James 
Balfour, "was tossed like a tinnes ball betwixt the preceisse 
ministers and the treacherous Papists. Mr. Robert Bruce 
told him to his face out of the pulpit, that 'God would raise 
more Bothwells against him than one, gif he did not revenge 
God's quarrel against the Papists, before his awn particular'" 
— referring to the insurrection of the Earl of Both well, against 
whom, he supposed the king to be more zealous than against 
his more dangerous enemies. Mr. Patrick Simpson was still 

1 M'Crie's Life of Melville, i. 324; Melville's Diary, pp. 199-201. By 
accepting, or rather taking the benefit of this establishment, the Church 
cannot be viewed as sanctioning patronage, against which she still con- 
tinued to protest, in her standards, and by her living voice, as an unwar- 
rantable encroachment on her true liberties. 

2 "Just," says Toplady, "as some Indians are said to worship the devil, 
for fear he should do them a mischief." ( Works, ii. 207.) 


more plain; for, preaching before his majesty on the words, 
"Where is Abel, thy brother?" he openly rebuked him for 
not prosecuting Huntly, the murderer of "the bonnie Earl 
of Murray." "Sir," said the preacher, "I assure you the 
Lord will ask at you, Where is the Earl of Murray, your 
brother?" "Mr. Patrick," replied the king before all the 
people, "my chalmer door was never steeked upon you; ye 
might have told me anything you thought in secret." "Sir," 
said Simpson, "the scandal was publick." 1 

But the most remarkable exhibition of boldness on the 
part of the ministers was that made by Andrew Melville. 
In 1596, when the design of recalling the popish lords was 
ascertained, Melville accompanied a deputation of the clergy 
to Falkland, to remonstrate against a measure which they 
judged to be fraught with danger to the country. They were 
admitted to a private audience, and James Melville, whose 
temper was the reverse of that of his uncle, and who was 
employed to speak for the rest, because, as he says himself, 
" I could propone the mater in a mild and smooth manner, 
quhilk the king lyked best of," was beginning to open the 
case, when he was interrupted by his majesty, who accused 
them, "in maist crabbit and coleric maner," of holding sedi- 
tious meetings, and of alarming the country without any 
reason. 2 This^vas too much for Andrew Melville, who could 
no longer keep silence. He took the king by the sleeve, 
and calling him "God's sillie vassal," he proceeded to address 
him in the following strain — "perhaps," says his biographer, 
"the most singular, in point of freedom, that ever saluted 
royal ears, or that ever proceeded from the mouth of a loyal 
subject, who would have spilt his blood in defence of the 
person and honour of his prince:" 3 — "Sir," he said, "we 
will always humbly reverence your majesty in public; but 
since we have this occasion to be with your majesty in 
private, and since you are brought into extreme danger both 
of your life and crown, and along with you the country and 
the Church of God are like to go to wreck, for not telling 
you the truth and giving you faithful counsel, we must dis- 
charge our duty, or else be traitors both to Christ and you. 

1 Balfour's Annals of Scotland, i. 395; Row's MS. Hist. p. 100. 

2 James Melville's Diary, p. 245, Ban. edit. 
8 M 'Crie's Life of Melville, i. 391. 

1596.] melville's bold speech to king james. 85 

Therefore, sir, as divers times before I have told you, so now 
again I must tell you, there are two kings and two kingdoms 
in Scotland : there is King James, the head of this common- 
wealth, and there is Christ Jesus, the King of the Church, 
whose subject James the Sixth is, and of whose kingdom he 
is not a king, nor a lord, nor a head, but a member. We 
will yield to you your place, and give you all due obedience; 
but again I say, you are not the head of the Church; you 
cannot give us that eternal life which we seek for even in 
this world, and you cannot deprive us of it. Permit us, 
then, freely to meet in the name of Christ, and to attend to 
the interests of that Church of which you are a chief mem- 
ber. Sir, when you were in your swaddling clothes Christ 
Jesus reigned freely in this land, in spite of all his enemies; 
his officers and ministers convened for the ruling and welfare 
of his Church, which was ever for your welfare, when these 
same enemies were seeking your destruction. And now, 
when there is more than extreme necessity for the continu- 
ance of that duty, will you hinder and dishearten Christ's 
servants and your most faithful subjects, quarrelling them 
for their convening, when you should rather commend and 
countenance them, as the godly kings and emperors did?" 
During the delivery of this confounding lecture his majesty's 
passion, which was very high at its commencement, gradually 
subsided; and the ministers were dismissed with fair promises. 
Different opinions will, no doubt, be formed of the conduct 
pursued by these undaunted presbyters. Those who are 
accustomed to regard the interests of truth as of paramount, 
because eternal, importance, will admire it as moral heroism ; 
while others, judging by an inferior standard, may denounce 
it as officious insolence. 1 It is no doubt perfectly easy for 
us, at this distance of time, to sit down in safe tranquillity, 
and sagely to pronounce that this or the other measure was 
too precipitate, and that the zeal of certain persons was quite 
irregular. But, as it has been well remarked, "if we look 
backwards, and impartially consider the state of things at 
that period, and the different circumstances affecting it, our 

1 Some having blamed Andrew Melville with being too fiery, he replied, 
"If you see my fire go downward, set your foot on it and put it out; but 
if it go upward, let it go to its own place." " Meaning (says Livingstone) 
that his zeal was not for himself or outward things." {Characteristics, art. 
'A. Melville.') 


censure must needs be more modest; and we shall probably 
find ourselves inclined to admit of an apology for that which 
cannot obtain our approbation. In the midst of a storm at 
sea it is not surely to be expected that things should be 
managed so calmly and prudently as in moderate weather 
and an easy voyage." 1 "However," says a modern historian, 
"from our being placed under happier circumstances, we 
may shrink at the broad indecent reproach which, from the 
pulpit, was frequently directed even against the sovereign 
himself; however we may be convinced that such a practice 
now would be useless or intolerable, we must, if we calmly 
investigate the period at present under review, be satisfied 
that we, in a great degree, owe to the intrepidity of the 
clergy the liberties which we enjoy; and that had they re- 
mained silent the king would either have destroyed every ves- 
tige of freedom, or, what was more likely, his throne would 
have been subverted, and Scotland delivered into the hands 
of a merciless and bigoted tyrant." 2 

The year 1596 is memorable in the history of the Church 
of Scotland, both for the happy revival of religion, and the 
lamentable manner in which it terminated. For some time 
its power had been visibly decaying; various corruptions had 
crept into the Church, and numerous offences were charge- 
able both on ministers and people. To meet these evils 
some extraordinary effort was necessary ; and for this purpose 
the General Assembly of 1593 had appointed a commission 
for a general visitation of the whole presbyteries throughout 
the realm. But the honour of giving a new impulse to the 
religious feelings of the nation is due to that zealous minister 
to whom we have repeatedly alluded, John Davidson, minis- 
ter, formerly of Liberton, now of Prestonpans. Lamenting 
the evils which abounded, and the inefficacy of all the means 
hitherto used to correct them, he proposed, in an overture to 
the General Assembly, that, after a solemn confession of the 
corruptions and offences of ministers and persons of all 
estates, not excepting the courts of justice and the king's 
household, they shouldrenew the National Covenant, "making 
promise before the majesty of God to amend their conduct." 
This proposal was cordially agreed to, and the Assembly was 

1 Dr. Macqueen's Letters on Hume's History of Great Britain, p. 83. 

2 Dr. Cook's History of the Church of Scotland, ii. 19. 


held in the Little Church of Edinburgh, on Tuesday, 30th of 
March, 1596. On this solemn occasion Davidson, who was 
chosen to preside, preached so much to the conviction of his 
hearers, and in their name offered up a confession of thier 
sins to Heaven with such fervent emotion that the whole 
assembled ministers melted into tears; and rising from their 
seats at his desire, and lifting up their right hands, they re- 
newed their covenant with God, "protesting to walk more 
warily in their ways, and to be more diligent in their charges." 
This scene, which continued during three hours, was deeply 
affecting, beyond anything that the oldest person present had 
ever witnessed. As the greater part of the ministers were 
not present to join in the sacred action, the Assembly ordained 
that it should be repeated in the different synods and pres- 
byteries, and afterwards extended to congregations; and the 
ordinance was obeyed with an alacrity and fervour which 
spread from presbytery to presbytery, and from parish to 
parish, till all Scotland, like Judah of old, "rejoiced at the 
oath." 1 

But the satisfaction diffused by this exercise was of short 
duration; it seemed designed, as a brief moment of sunshine, 
to prepare the faithful ministers of the Church for the coming 
storm. It was remarked by many that the Church never had 
another Assembly like this during the reign of James; and Cal- 
derwood, after detailing its proceedings, closes his account with 
these emphatic words: " Here end the sincere General Assemblies 
of the Kirk of Scotland." 2 On the 17th of December of the 
same year, when the minds of the people were in a state of 
high excitement from rumours of the designs of the Papists, 
information was conveyed to the ministers that Huntly, one 
of the popish lords, had been all night in the palace, and that 
his retainers were waiting for orders to enter the capital. 
Alarmed at this intelligence, Lord Lindsay and Mr. Bruce 
were appointed to wait on the king, to set before him the 
dangers that threatened religion. "What dangers see you?" 
said his majesty. Bruce mentioned their apprehensions as 
to Huntly. "What have ye to do with that?" said James; 
"and how durst you convene against my proclamation?" 
"We dare do more than that," said Lord Lindsay; "and we 

1 Melville's Diary, 229-243; Calderwood, p. 317. 

2 Calderwood's (printed) History, p. 323. 


will not suffer religion to be overthrown." Meanwhile the 
panic had been communicated to the people, and some evil- 
disposed persons, taking advantage of it, raised the cry, "To 
arms! to arms!" "These are not our weapons," said Bruce, 
attempting to calm the assembly, and after some confusion, 
which issued in no violence, the tumult was soon quelled. 
Such was the whole affair of the 17th of December, which 
the king professed to resent so highly that he removed the 
court to Linlithgow, and made it a pretext for overthrowing 
the liberties of the Church. 1 

The real secret of James' antipathy to presbytery was his 
ambition to be regarded as head of the Church, a claim to 
which Presbyterianism, from its very nature, stands directly 
opposed. His sentiments on this subject were discovered 
in two publications which appeared shortly after the event 
now related. The first of these, which is entitled "The True 
Law of Free Monarchies," is an unvarnished defence of arbi- 
trary power, and may help us to understand the meaning of 
his favourite maxim, "No bishop, no king." The king, 
according to James, is to be "a free and absolute monarch," 
at liberty to do what he pleases with his people, "who," says 
he, "are not permitted to make any resistance but by flight, 
as we may see by the example of brute beasts and unreason- 
able creatures, among whom we never read or hear of any 
resistance to their parents, except among the vipers." In the 
other treatise, "Basilicon Doron," which was addressed to 
his son, Prince Henry, he maintains "that the office of a king 
is partly civil and partly ecclesiastical; that a principal part 
of his function consists in ruling the Church; that it belongs 
to him to judge when preachers wander from their text; that 
parity among ministers is irreconcilable with monarchy, and 
the mother of confusion ; and in short, that Episcopacy should 
be set up, and the principal Presbyterian ministers banished 
from the country." 

With principles so opposite to the spirit of freedom and of 
the Scottish Church, it is not surprising that James and the 
Presbyterian ministers should have been perpetually at 
variance. The clergy, jealous of their religious rights, openly 
and vehemently denounced the king's proceedings from the 

1 Life of Melville, i. 407-410; Melville's Declining Age of the Church of 
Scotland, p. 5; Baillie's Hist. Vindication, p. 68-71. 


pulpit; and the king, on the other hand, threatened all with 
civil pains who ventured to condemn his measures, or 
question his authority as supreme potentate of the Church. 
"There would never be peace," he said, "till the marches 
were rid between them." Determined, however, to "rid the 
marches" in his own person, he summoned one of the most 
zealous of their number, Mr. David Black, minister of St. 
Andrews, to answer before the privy council for certain 
treasonable speeches, as he termed them, which he had 
uttered in the pulpit. Black, in his own name, and in that 
of his brethren of the ministry, sent in a declinature to the 
council, denying their authority to sit as judges of his 
doctrine, in the first instance, or till he was tried by the 
Church courts. They saw clearly that this prosecution was 
put out as a feeler, to ascertain how far the Church would 
yield; and, to use their own language, they feared "that their 
yielding on this occasion would be held as an acknowledg- 
ment of his majesty's jurisdiction in matters that are mere 
spiritual, which might move his majesty to attempt further in 
the spiritual government of the house of God, and end in 
either a plain subverting of the spiritual judicature, or at 
least a confounding thereof with civil, if at any time profane 
and ambitious magistrates might by such dangerous begin- 
nings find the hedge broken down, to make a violent irrup- 
tion upon the Lord's inheritance; which the Lord forbid." l 
This faithful struggle for the liberties of the Church issued, 
as might have been expected, in the defeat of the weaker 
party, and Black was banished from St. Andrews. 2 

It was the delight of James, however, to gain his object by 
policy rather than violence; and at length, by a series of 
stealthy, wheedling, and disgraceful manoeuvres, which he 
dignified with the name of kingcraft, he succeeded in over- 
turning the Presbyterian polity. His first attempt of this 
nature was made shortly after the tumult to which we have 
referred, when he requested the Assembly to appoint some of 
their number, with whom he might advise respecting affairs 

1 Declinature of the King and Council's Tudicature in Matters Spintual, 
&c, by Mr. David Black, 18th Nov. 1596. 

2 The king was afterwards so far reconciled to Mr. Black, as to allow his 
admission into the vacant parish of Arbirlot. There he lived peaceably for 
six years, and died of an apoplectic stroke, when he was in the act of dis- 
pensing the communion elements to his people. 


in which the Church might be interested; and the Assembly 
rashly complied, appointing fourteen ministers to act as com- 
missioners for the Church. "This/' says James Melville, 
'•was the very needle which drew in the episcopal thread." 
Next year the king stole another step towards his purpose, 
by prevailing upon the parliament to declare that prelacy 
was the third estate of the kingdom, and that such pastors as 
he pleased to raise to the dignity of bishops should have a 
right to vote in parliament. The next step was to prevail on 
the Church courts to allow their commissioners to enjoy this 
enviable privilege. The commissioners themselves do not 
seem to have been unwilling to comply; and they endeavour- 
ed to persuade their brethren that his majesty's object was 
merely to maintain the dignity of the ministerial office, and 
in nowise to bring in the Popish or anglican bishops. But 
the more clearsighted saw through the stratagem, and pro- 
tested against it. The venerable Fergusson compared it to 
the wooden horse by which the Greeks succeeded in taking 
Troy. And John Davidson, now an old man, but retaining 
all the spirit of his youth, cried out, "Ay, busk, busk, busk 
him as bonnilie as ye can, and fetch him in as fairly as you 
will, we see him weill enough; we see the horns of his mitre." 
At length, in March, 1598, in an Assembly summoned to meet 
at Dundee, for the especial convenience of the northern 
ministers whom James had bribed to come up, it was decided, 
by a majority of ten, that the ministry, as the third estate of 
the realm, should have a vote in parliament. 

Still, in spite of this disgraceful compliance, it required all 
the craft and finesse of the king to constitute these repre- 
sentatives of the Church bona fide bishops. After various 
conferences, and proroguing one Assembly after another, an 
Assembly, which met at Montrose in 1600, agreed to a 
number of caveats or cautions, to prevent the commissioners 
of the Church (for by that name they were to be designated) 
from abusing their powers. But the strictest caveats, sanc- 
tioned by the most sacred promises, were feeble ties on an 
unprincipled court and perfidious churchmen. The king, 
conceiving that matters were now ripe for accomplishing his 
purpose, quietly nominated three of the ministers, David 
Lindsay, Peter Blackburn, and George Gladstanes, to the 
vacant bishoprics of Ross, Aberdeen, and Caithness. And 


these individuals, thus nominated without the knowledge or 
consent of the Church, sat and voted in the ensuing parlia- 
ment, directly in the face of those cautions which they had 
so lately vowed to observe. "It was neither the king's 
intention," says Spotswoode, "nor the mind of the wiser sort, 
that these cautions should stand in force; but to have matters 
peaceably ended, and the reformation of the policy made 
without noise, the king gave way to these conceits." l 

The triumph of James, however, was not complete so long 
as the General Assemblies continued to manage the affairs 
of the Church ; and it required other ten years of sad strug- 
gling and manoeuvring before he gained a victory, of which 
it is hard to say whether it was more disgraceful to the victors 
or more disastrous to the vanquished. 

About the time of which we now speak several ministers 
were involved in trouble by an event in which they had no 
concern, and solely through the pragmatical obstinacy of 
the king. All who have read the history of Scotland are 
acquainted with "The Gowrie Conspiracy," an enigma in 
the life of James VI. which still seems to defy solution, and 
is involved in as much mystery as it was at the time of its 
occurrence. John Ruthven, earl of Gowrie, an accomplished 
young nobleman, had just returned from his travels on the 
Continent, and was universally beloved by all who knew 
him. He was a zealous Protestant, and had spent a quarter 
of a year at Geneva with Beza, the great reformer, who had 
conceived for him the highest esteem and admiration, and 
who could never afterwards hear his name mentioned without 
tears. The citizens of Perth respected him so highly, that 
they elected him provost in 1593, and continued him in the 
office during his absence. Suddenly, in August, 1600, when 
he had not been three months at home, the king, with a large 
retinue, came to Gowrie's house in Perth, saying he had 
been invited by the earl's brother, Alexander Ruthven. A 
scuffle took place, and the inhabitants, on reaching the spot, 
found their provost and his brother weltering in their blood. 
James and his friends gave out that these two noblemen 
had attempted to assassinate him, and that they had been 
killed in the act, on the king giving the alarm. This story 

Spotswoode, p. 454; Calderwood, p. 402 et seq; Calderwood's Course of 
Conformitie, passim. 


is so full of glaring improbabilities, that one cannot help 
sympathizing with the opinion of Sir Thomas MoncriefT, 
who, meeting the king near the Bridge of Earn on his return 
from Perth, and hearing his account of the affair, is said to 
have replied, "May it please your majesty, it is a strange 
story indeed, if it be trite." 1 Nothing throws so much 
suspicion on the king's account as his extreme spite at any 
who whispered the smallest doubt of its truth. It was not 
enough that the ministers returned thanks to God for his 
deliverance; they were required to declare their full belief 
in his story. On his return to Edinburgh, Monday, nth 
August, 1600, James went, accompanied by some of the 
nobility, to the cross, where his chaplain, Patrick Galloway, 
preached to the people convened on the street a sermon, in 
which he endeavoured to persuade them that Gowrie and 
his brother had verily conspired the king's death, and were 
slain in the execution of the enterprise; and the king himself, 
rising up after him, made a harangue to the same purpose. - 
He next caused a narrative of the affair to be published; 3 
but in spite of all his efforts the clergy as a body, and not 
a few of the laity, persisted in their incredulity. 4 They 
remembered, among other things, that Gowrie was a stanch 
friend of the Protestant religion, and in favour with Queen 
Elizabeth, while the Popish lords, under whose influence the 
king now acted, were the deadly enemies of the house ot 
Gowrie. Incensed at their conduct the king summoned the 
ministers into his presence, and partly by arguments, partly 
by threats, they were all convinced or silenced, except Mr. 
Robert Bruce, who steadily refused to "stain the glory of his 

1 The Muses Threnodie, &c., by Cant, p. 170; Account of Gowrie Con- 
spiracy in Scott's MSS. Adv. Lib. 

2 Discourse by Mr. Patrick Galloway, delivered on occasion of the Gowrie 
Conspiracy, August, 1600. {Ban. Misc. i. 141.) 

3 This narrative is introduced in Morse's Memoirs of the Affairs of Scot- 
land, p. 265. 

4 The citizens of Perth would never believe that their provost was guilty, 
although their minister, William Cowper, used every means to persuade 
them. (Scott's MS. Records, Adv. Libr. ad. an. 1600.) In the tumult 
which succeeded the discovery they surrounded the earl's house, and seeing 
the king standing in his hunting-coat at the window they cried out, "Give 
us out our provost, or the king's green coat shall pay for it!" Ruthven of 
Forgun, on seeing him, cried up, " Come down, thou son of Signior Davie! 
thou hast slain an honester man than thyself." [Cold. MS. Hist. ad. an. 
1600; Cant's History of Perth, pp. 206, 253.) 

l6oo.] ROBERT BRUCE. 93 

ministry" by hypocritically acknowledging himself persuaded 
of the guilt of Gowrie, and against whom his majesty was 
pleased to maintain his own veracity by the unanswerable 
arguments of deprivation and banishment. 1 

Robert Bruce, who has been thus introduced to our 
notice, was a noble character, and deserves a more particular 
description. He was second son to the laird of Airth, from 
whom he inherited the estate of Kinnaird. In his youth he 
was educated with the view of his rising to the bench; but 
his conscience was so deeply impressed with an inward call 
to the ministry, that he could obtain no rest till he was per- 
mitted to attend the theological lectures of Andrew Melville 
at St. Andrews; and on one occasion, in conversation with 
James Melville, alluding to the conflict of mind through 
which he had passed, he said: "Before I throw myself again 
into such a torment of conscience as I have had in resisting 
the call to the ministry, I would rather choose to walk 
through a fire of brimstone, though it were a mile in length." 
With all his fervency, however, such was his lowliness of 
mind that, when a preacher, he could not be prevailed upon 
to enter upon the ministry, until he was, somewhat im- 
properly, entrapped into it. At a sacramental occasion in 
Edinburgh, in the church to which he was afterwards called, 
one of the ministers desired him to sit beside him while 
serving a table; and having left him, as if for a little, he sent 
word to Mr. Bruce, who was still sitting opposite to the ele- 
ments, that unless he continued the service the work must 
necessarily be closed. The eyes of all were fixed on him — 
many requested him to supply the minister's place; and 
Bruce, thinking he had been seized with a sudden illness, 
proceeded with the services in a manner which produced 
the most unprecedented effect on all present. Having thus 
commenced, he continued to discharge the duties of the 
"ministry; and some time afterwards, when the commissioners 
for the Church would have had him consent to be ordained 
by the imposition of hands, Bruce, with characteristic spirit, 
refused to submit to the ceremony, on the ground that it 
would imply that his former ministry had been unlawful. 
King James had such a high opinion of him, that when he 

1 Narrative by Mr. Robert Bruce of his Troubles, A.D. 1600. {Ban. Misc. 
P- J 63-) 


went to bring his queen home from Denmark, in 1590, he 
nominated him an extraordinary councillor — an office which 
Bruce discharged so well, that his majesty declared "he 
would be obligated to him all his life." 

The heroic independence and unbending rectitude of 
Bruce's mind were never more strikingly displayed than in 
his conduct in regard to the alleged Gowrie conspiracy. For 
his firmness in this matter he was banished to France. 
Having been permitted to return to his native country, he 
signified that his doubts were in a great measure removed, 
but still refused to give a public profession of his faith in 
the king's story, or to make the humiliating submission which 
was enjoined. He had never, he said, refused to do the 
duty of a subject; but to utter in the pulpit, under the 
authority of his office, anything of which he was not fully 
persuaded, he was not at liberty. "I have a body and some 
goods," continued he; "let his majesty use them as God 
shall direct him. But, as to my inward peace, I pray his 
majesty in all humility, to suffer me to keep it. Place me 
where God placed me, and I shall teach as faithful and 
wholesome doctrine to the honour of the magistrate as God 
shall give me grace. But to go through the country and 
make proclamations here and there will be counted either 
a beastly fear or a beastly flattery; and in so doing I should 
raise greater doubts, and do more harm than good to the 
cause, for people look not to words but to grounds." 1 The 
consequence of this was, that Bruce was not allowed to re- 
sume his ministerial labours in Edinburgh. We shall have 
occasion to meet again with this valuable servant of Christ. 

The time had now come when James was to be no longer 
molested nor thwarted in his designs on the Church by the 
inconvenient and uncourtly firmness of the Scottish ministers. 
In March, 1603, on the death of Elizabeth, he succeeded to 
the crown of England, and was received by his new subjects 
with every demonstration of unbounded loyalty. He was 

1 Life of Melville, ii. 81. The king acknowledged to Mr. Bruce that he 
ordered Alexander Ruthven to be struck. "I grant," said he, "that I am 
art and part in Master Alexander's slaughter, but it was in my own defence." 
"Why brought ye him not to justice?" said Bruce: " you should have had 
God before your eyes." " I had neither God nor the devil before my eyes, 
man!" said the king, interrupting him, "but my own defence." {Calder- 
wood, MS. Hist. ad. an, 1600.) 


not long seated on the English throne when a conference 
was held at Hampton Court, to hear the complaints of the 
Puritans, as those good men were called who scrupled to 
conform to the ceremonies, and sought a reformation of the 
abuses, of the Church of England. On this occasion, sur- 
rounded with his deans, bishops, and archbishops, who 
breathed into his ears the music of flattery, and worshipped 
him as an oracle, James, like King Solomon, to whom he was 
fond of being compared, appeared in all his glory, giving his 
judgment on every question, and displaying before the aston- 
ished prelates, who kneeled every time they addressed him, 
his polemic powers and theological learning. Contrasting 
his present honours with the scenes from which he had just 
escaped in his native country, he began by congratulating 
himself that, "by the blessing of Providence he was brought 
i?ito the promised /and, where religion was professed in its 
purity; where he sat among grave, learned, and reverend men ; 
and that now he was not, as formerly, a king without state and 
honour, nor in a place where order was banished and beard- 
less boys would brave him to his face." 1 After long confer- 
ences, during which the king gave the most extraordinary 
exhibitions of his learning, drollery, and profaneness, he was 
completely thrown oft' his guard by the word presbytery, which 
Dr. Reynolds, a representative of the Puritans, had unfortun- 
ately employed. Thinking that he aimed at a '* Scotch pres- 
bytery," James rose into a towering passion, declaring that 
presbytery agreed as well with monarchy as God and the 
devil. "Then," said he, "Jack and Tom and Will and Dick 
shall meet, and at their pleasures censure me and my council, 
and all our proceedings. Then Will shall stand up and say, 
It must be thus. Then Dick shall reply, and say, Nay marry, 
but we will have it thus. And, therefore, here I must once 
reiterate my former speech, Le Roy s'avisera (the king will 
look after it). Stay, I pray you, for one seven years before 
you demand that of me; and if you then find me pursy and 
fat, and my wind-pipes stuffed, I will perhaps hearken to you; 
for let that government be once up I am sure I shall be kept 
in breath; then we shall all of us have w r ork enough, both 
our hands full. But, Dr. Reynolds, till you find that I grow 
lazy, let that alone." Then, putting his hand to his hat, 
1 Dr. Barlow's Summary of Hampton Court Conference, p. 4. 


"My lords the bishops," said his majesty, "I may thank you 
that these men plead for my supremacy; they think they 
can't make their party good against you, but by appealing 
unto it. But if once you are out, and they in place, I know 
what would become of my supremacy; for no bishop, no king, 
as I said before." Then rising from his chair he concluded 
the conference with, "If this be all they have to say, I'll 
make them conform, or I'll harry them out of this land, or 
else do worse." 1 

The English lords and prelates were so filled with admir- 
ation at the quickness of apprehension and dexterity in con- 
troversy shown by the king, that, as Dr. Barlow informs us, 
"one of them said his majesty spoke by the instinct of the 
Spirit of God; and the lord-chancellor, as he went out, said 
to the Dean of Chester, I have often heard that Rex est 
mixta persona cum sacerdote (that a king is partly a priest), 
but I never saw the truth thereof till this day !" 2 

In these circumstances, buoyed up with flattery by his 
English clergy, and placed beyond the reach of the faithful 
admonitions of the Scottish ministry, we need not wonder to 
find James prosecuting, with redoubled ardour, his scheme 
of reducing the Church of Scotland to the English model. 
The bishops being now established, his next object was to 
procure something like an acknowledgment of them by the 
Church, to effect which it was necessary to destroy every 
vestige of freedom in the constitution of her Assemblies. 
The first attempt of this kind had been made in 1599, when 
the king dismissed the Assembly, and summoned another to 
meet at Montrose in 1600, solely by virtue of his royal pre- 
rogative. This was entirely contrary to the establishment 
ratified by parliament in 1592, according to which the time 
and place of meeting were to be nominated by the preceding 
Assembly, with his majesty's consent.' 5 Under various pre- 
texts James had infringed this rule, proroguing and altering 
the time of Assemblies at pleasure; and at last the Assembly 
which should have met at Aberdeen in July, 1605, was pro- 
rogued indefinitely. Now was the time to decide whether 
the Church was to stand firm, or to yield her liberties, with- 
out a struggle, into the hands of the king. In the midst of 

1 Collier, Eccl. Hist. p. 681, Hampt. Court Conference, ut svp. 
2 Dr. Barlow's Summary of the Conference, pp. 82, 84. 3 Row's Hist. p. 143. 


a tempestuous winter, which kept many from coming up, a 
few faithful men having convened at Aberdeen, determined 
at least to constitute the Assembly, and appoint another 
meeting. The king having heard that it was to be held at 
Aberdeen, sent instructions to Stratton of Laurieston, as 
commissioner, empowering him to dissolve the meeting, just 
because it had not been called by his majesty. The breth- 
ren present resolved to constitute before reading the com- 
munication; and John Forbes, minister of Alford, was chosen 
moderator. While they were reading the king's letter a 
messenger-at-arms arrived, and in the king's name comman- 
ded them to dissolve, on pain of rebellion. The Assembly 
agreed to dissolve, provided it were done in the regular way, 
by his majesty's commissioner naming a day and place for 
the next meeting. This the commissioner refused to do, 
the object of the king being to reserve to himself the right 
of calling it or not at his sovereign pleasure. The moderator 
accordingly, at the request of his brethren, appointed the 
Assembly to convene at the same place on the last Tuesday 
of September, and dissolved the meeting. 1 

Such is a short account of the Assembly at Aberdeen, 
which brought so many faithful ministers into trouble. 
Their conduct on this occasion was marked equally by 
respect to the royal authority and fidelity to the great Head 
of the Church; and it deserves the warmest approbation of 
every friend of religion and civil liberty. No sooner, how- 
ever, was his majesty informed of their proceedings, than he 
transmitted orders to his privy-council to proceed against 
the ministers as guilty of high treason. Fourteen of them, 
having defended their conduct, were committed to various 
prisons; and six of the principal ministers, who were ob- 
noxious for their fidelity, were selected for prosecution. 
Their names, which deserve to be recorded, were, Mr. John 
Forbes, the moderator; Mr. John Welch, minister at Ayr; 
Mr. Andrew Duncan, at Crail; Mr. Robert Dury, at Anstru- 
ther; Mr. John Sharp, at Kilmany, and Mr. Alexander Stra- 
chan, at Creigh. 

1 Life of Melville, ii. 114-116. History of the Reformation of Religion 
in Scotland, written by that faithful servant and witness of Christ Mr. John 
Forbes, p. 46, et seq. {MS. penes me.) Petrie's Hist, of the Catholic Church, 
p. 570-580. 



At three o'clock in the morning, in the depth of winter, 
and through roads almost impassable, these good men were 
summoned to stand trial for high treason before the court of 
justiciary at Linlithgow, where they were met by a number 
of their brethren, who had come to countenance them during 
their trial. The prisoners made an eloquent defence. The 
concluding speech of Forbes, the moderator, is remarkably 
impressive. " My lord," said he, addressing the Earl of 
Dunbar, when he saw they were about to pass judgment, 
" I adjure you before the living God, that you report to his 
majesty, in our names, this history out of the book of Joshua." 
He then related the account of the league between the Israel- 
ites and Gibeonites, and the manner in which God avenged 
the violation of that covenant many years afterwards on Saul 
and his house (Jos. ix. 3-19; 2 Sam. xxi. 2). "Now, my 
lord, warn the king, that if such a high judgment fell upon 
Saul and his house for destroying them that deceived Israel, 
and only because of the oath of God which passed between 
them, what judgment will fall on his majesty, his posterity, 
and the whole land, if he and ye violate the great oath ye 
have all made to God, to stand to His truth, and to maintain 
the discipline of His Kirk according to your powers." Then 
reading over to them the last sentence of the national cove- 
nant, he added, "So take this to heart, as ye will be answer- 
able to God in that dreadful day of judgment, to which we 
appeal, if ye wrongously condemn us." 

But what avail innocence and eloquence against the arts 
of corruption and the influence of terror? The Earl of Dun- 
bar had been sent down for the express purpose of securing 
the condemnation of the ministers; the jury were packed, and 
a verdict w r as at last obtained at midnight, finding, by a 
majority of three, the prisoners guilty of high treason. On 
hearing the verdict the ministers embraced each other, and 
gave God thanks for having supported them during the trial. 
Arriving at Edinburgh, they were met by their wives, who 
were awaiting with much anxiety the result of the trial. On 
being told that they had been convicted by so few votes of 
the crime of treason, "they joyfully," says Row, "and with 
masculine minds, thanked the Lord Jesus, who had given 
them that strength and courage to stand to their Master's 
cause, saying, They are evil entreated, as their Master was 


before them — judged and condemned under silence of 
night." 1 

It was thought that they might be set at liberty after a little 
confinement; but orders came down from London in Nov- 
ember, 1606, to banish them out of his majesty's dominions. 
They were accordingly brought from the castle of Blackness 
to Leith, and the ship being ready, and many of their friends 
having attended to see them embark, "they fell down upon 
their knees on the shore," says our historian, "and prayed 
two several times, verie ferventlie, moving all the multitude 
about them to tears in abundance; and after they had sung 
the twenty-third psalm, joyfullie taking leave of their friends 
and acquaintances, they passed to the ship, and after encoun- 
tering a storm, were safely transported and landed in France." 2 

Previously to this, it was thought expedient to remove 
Andrew Melville and a few of the more zealous brethren 
out of the way. They were summoned to London, on the 
pretext of consultation with the king, and they were not long 
there when they were prohibited from returning to Scotland. 
Melville, on account of a Latin epigram, which he wrote for 
his own amusement, containing some satirical reflections on 
the English service, was committed to the Tower of London; 
and, after a confinement of four years, was banished to 
France, where he died, at Sedan, in the year 162 2. 3 

Meanwhile, the king, intent on bringing his favourite pro- 
ject to a conclusion, went a step farther, and proposed that 
the bishops should be appointed constant moderators ; in other 
words, that they should have a right, in virtue of their office 
(ad vitam aut culpam), to preside in all meetings of presby- 
teries, synods, and General Assemblies. This new aggression 
on the liberties of the Church, the object of which was clearly 
seen through, 4 met with fresh opposition from the Church 
courts, and gave rise to many unseemly and disgraceful 
scenes. As an illustration, we may describe the scene that 

1 Row's MS. Hist. ad. an. 1606. "The people said, it was certainly 
a work of darkness to make Christ's faithful servants traitors. O, if the 
king were never in greater danger than by such men!" {Petrie's Hist, of 
the Church, p. 580.) 

2 Row's MS. Hist. p. 176. 3 Life of Melville, ii. 156-319. 

4 They were plainly intended to prepare the way for the introduction 
of prelates. "The constant moderators were (as was said at that time) 
the little theeves, entering at the narrow windows to make open the doors 
to the great theeves.'' {Course of Con/ormitie, p. 50.) 


took place in Perth, at the opening of the synod there, in 
March, 1607, when Mr. William Row, a bold and zealous 
champion of Presbytery, presided as moderator. The king 
had sent Lord Scoon, 1 a man of violent temper and dissolute 
habits, to force them to accept a constant moderator. Scoon 
sent notice to Mr. Row, that if, in his preaching, he uttered 
a syllable against constant moderators, he should cause ten 
or twelve of his guards to discharge their pieces in his face; 
and during the time of sermon he stood up in a menacing 
posture to outbrave the preacher. But Mr. Row, no way 
dismayed, knowing what vices Scoon was most addicted to, 
and particularly that he was a notorious glutton, drew his 
picture in the beginning of his discourse so much to the life, 
that Scoon, seeing all eyes directed towards him, was glad to 
sit down and cover his face. After which the minister pro- 
ceeded to prove that no constant moderator ought to be 
tolerated in the Church; but being aware that Scoon under- 
stood neither Latin nor Greek, he wisely avoided naming the 
constant moderator in English, giving him the learned title 
of proestos ad vitam. Sermon being ended, Scoon said to 
some of his attendants, "You see how I charmed the preacher 
from meddling with the constant moderator; but I wonder 
what man it was he spoke so much against by the name of 
Prestos ad vitam" When told that this was a learned phrase 
for constant moderator, Scoon's rage knew no bounds, and he 
resolved to prevent the synod from meeting, unless they 
chose for their moderator one of those who had been nomi- 
nated by the king. Upon their refusing to submit, and pro- 
ceeding to elect one of their number, Scoon rose in great 
wrath, threatened, and gave abusive names to them, and even 
attempted to snatch the roll of the members out of the mo- 
derator's hand; but Row, who was a man of great bodily 
strength, kept down the commissioner in his chair with the 
one hand — exhorting him to "speak with reverence and 
reason" — and holding the roll in the other, deliberately 
called over the names of the members who chose Mr. Harrie 
Livingston as their moderator. "Let no man be so bold as 
come there!" cried Scoon, rising to intercept Livingston on 
his way to the moderator's chair. "Let us begin at God," 
said Livingston, kneeling down, when he had got to the 
1 Sir David Murray, Lord Scoon, and afterwards Viscount Stormont. 


middle of the table, "and let us all be humbled in the name 
of Jesus Christ." "The d — 1 a Jesus is here !" exclaimed the 
commissioner, with shocking profaneness, overturning at the 
same time the table around which the ministers were kneel- 
ing. But they continued to kneel, undisturbed by his vio- 
lence, till the prayer was ended and the meeting constituted. 
During this time Scoon stood with his head uncovered, call- 
ing for the bailies of Perth, and commanding them to ring 
the common bell, and remove these rebels — an order which, 
though he was at that time their provost, none of them chose 
to execute. Baffled in this, on their adjourning he ordered 
the doors of the church to be locked, so that when the 
ministers returned they were compelled to hold their synod 
in the open church-yard, the members kneeling down on the 
graves for prayer, amidst the tears of the populace, who 
crowded around them, deeply sympathizing with the dishonour 
thus offered to their church, and soon furnished them with 
tables and stools from their own houses. 1 

The extraordinary scene which we have just described, 
disgraceful as it was to the individual who occasioned it and 
to the government that employed him, reflects no discredit 
on the ministers of the synod of Perth, who deserve praise 
for their firm and yet respectful opposition to such a despotic 
invasion of their privileges. And it shows the impolicy of 
all state interference with the proper jurisdiction of the 
Church — an interference which must issue either in the tame 
submission of the Church, in the things of God, to the 
authority of man, or in a collision between the civil and 
sacred jurisdictions, which all wise governments have, for 
their own sakes, carefully avoided. 

It is needless to dwell on the other steps by which James 
succeeded in accomplishing his object. It is enough to 
observe, that at length, in an Assembly held at Glasgow in 
1610, by dint of bribery and intimidation, he obtained the 
consent of the Church to receive the bishops as moderators 
of diocesan synods, and to confer on them the power of ex- 
communicating and absolving offenders, of ordaining and de- 
posing ministers, and visiting all the churches within their 
respective dioceses. 

1 Row's Hist. p. 180; Livingston's Characteristics, art. "W. Row;" 
Scott's MS. extracts from Kirk-session Register of Perth, vol. i. 1607. 


It would be absurd to consider this convention at Glasgow 
as a free and lawful General Assembly of the Church. Royal 
missives were sent to the presbyteries nominating the indi- 
viduals whom they should choose as their representatives, 
and whom the bishops had previously selected as most likely 
to favour their designs; and the Earl of Dunbar, the king's 
commissioner, was furnished with instructions to spare no 
expense, and scruple at no means, for securing that everything 
should be done according to the royal pleasure. The bribery 
practised at this Assembly was shamefully notorious. Golden 
coins, called angels, were so plentifully distributed among 
the ministers, that it was called, by way of derision, the 
angelical Assembly. Sir James Balfour informs us that Dun- 
bar had, at a former Assembly, in 1606, distributed for the 
same object, "amongst the most needy and clamorous of the 
ministry, to obtain their suffrages, forty thousand merks, to 
facilitate the business intended, and cause matters go the 
smoothlier on." l This was a trifle, however, when compared 
with the other expenses which it cost the king to establish 
Prelacy. Mr. Row may have somewhat exaggerated the 
sum, but he states, that "in buying the benefices of the 
bishops out of the hands of the noblemen who had them, in 
buying votes at Assemblies, in defraying all their other charges, 
such as coming to and living at court prelate-like, &c, the 
king did employ (by the confession of such as were best ac- 
quainted with, and were actors in, these businesses) above 
the sum of three hundred thousand pounds sterling money — 
a huge thing, indeed," he adds; "but sin lying heavie on the 
throne, crying aloud for wrath on him and his posteritie, 
is infinitely sadder than three hundred thousand pounds 
sterling." 2 

The pretext under which this disgraceful bribery was prac- 
tised, was that of defraying the expenses of the poor ministers 
who had come from a distance. "But," says Row, "the 
contrare was well knowne; for both some neare Glasgow, 
who voted the king's way, got the wages of Balaam, and some 

1 "Which mystery of state," adds Sir James, with great simplicity, "came 
thereafter to light by the view of the Lord-treasurer Dunbar's accompts ; 
a gross fault in him, which, if revealed in his lifetime, might have cost him 
his head, for his small prudence and little circumspection in leaving such 
an item on record to be looked on by posterity." {Annals of Scotland, ii. 18.) 

- Row's MS. Hist. p. 209. 


gracious ministers in the north, who voted negative, got no 
gold at all." Those who were mean enough to accept of 
these bribes returned home in disgrace, self-condemned and 
taunted by their brethren for having sold the liberties of the 
Church, which they had solemnly pledged themselves to 
defend before their departure. Altogether, it must be owned, 
this Assembly is a blot on the escutcheon of the Church of 
Scotland. It is true that it was neither legal in its consti- 
tution nor free in its deliberations, and on this account it was, 
with other Assemblies held at this period, declared null and 
void by the famous Assembly of 1638; it is true, also, that 
many of the faithful ministers protested against it at the 
time. But still, it is lamentable to think that so many min- 
isters could be collected out of the parishes of Scotland, 
weak enough to yield to the threats, or base enough to take 
the bribes of a despotic and domineering government, bent 
on overturning the liberties of the Church. It was well for 
the bishops that the bolder spirits who had opposed their 
encroachments were out of the way, that the flower of the 
ministry had been banished out of Scotland; for, as Arch- 
bishop Gladstanes acknowledged in a letter to the king 
announcing their success in Glasgow, "had Andrew Melville 
been in the country, they had never been able to get that 
turn accomplished." 

Blinded and misled as the members of this convention 
were, they had no idea of sanctioning the doctrine of the 
divine right of Episcopacy; they conceived that the form 
of presbyteries would still be kept up, with the bishops as 
moderators. No sooner, however, had the bishops gained 
their object at Glasgow than three of them set off to London, 
and having received episcopal ordination from the English 
prelates, they returned to consecrate the rest, without con- 
sulting presbytery, synod, or Assembly. It thus appeared 
that they considered themselves quite independent of the 
Church of Scotland, and conceived they had a right to 
govern their brethren, in virtue of the powers communicated 
to them by the bishops of another church with which she- 
had no connection. In short, they now alleged that they 
had received nav light on the subject of church govern- 
ment, and had discovered that Prelacy was more agreeable 
to Scripture and antiquity than Presbytery. With such senti- 


ments, they soon began to exercise the supreme jurisdiction 
with which they supposed themselves invested. 

At the meeting of the synod of Fife, Gladstanes, arch- 
bishop of St. Andrews, took the chair. It had been previ- 
ously arranged by the ministers that, after protesting against 
this usurpation, they should march out in due order, leaving 
the bishop alone in possession of the chair. Mr. John 
Malcolm, minister of Perth, as being the oldest member, was 
selected as the fittest person to take the lead in this proceed- 
ing. Before entering on business Malcolm rose up, and begged 
to ask by what authority, and on what grounds, the order of 
our Kirk, established in so many famous General Assem- 
blies, and ratified by the king's acts, was altered; which, said 
he, "we cannot see but with grief of heart, seeing we acknow- 
ledge it to be the only true form of government of Christ's 
Kirk." "I am astonished," said the bishop, in a high passion, 
"to hear such an aged man utter such foolish talk. Can 
you be ignorant, sir, of what was done by the General Assem- 
bly in Glasgow?" Other members, however, coming forward 
in his support, Gladstanes became calmer. "It's a strange 
thing, brethren," he said, "that ye are so troubled about such 
an indifferent matter. What matter who be moderator, pro- 
vided nothing be done but to all your contentment?" "Ye 
pretend the word," said they, "but ye let us see no warrand; 
we know nothing ye seek but gain and preferment in this 
course." Upon this, the bishop, starting up, exclaimed with 
vehemence, "God never let me see God's face, nor be a 
partaker of his kingdom, if I should take this office upon me, 
and were not persuaded I had the warrand of the word ! " 
The rest of the members looked to Malcolm, expecting him 
to walk out, as had been concerted; but as Row observes, 
he was "a man who had not a brow for that bargain," and 
he was prevailed upon to remain by Mr. William Cooper 
(afterwards made a bishop), who stood up and said, "Brethren, 
I beseech you remember that these things are not so essential 
points as to rend the bowels of the Kirk for them. Are these 
things such as to cast your ministry in hazard for them? 
What joy can ye have for your suffering, when ye suffer for 
a matter so indifferent as, who shall be moderator? who shall 
have the imposition of hands? Wherefore serves it to fill 
the people's ears with contentious doctrine concerning the 


government of the Kirk? Were it not much better to preach 
sincerely, and wait on and see what the Lord will work in 
these matters?" Gladstanes, as we may easily conceive, 
highly applauded this speech; he declared that no honest 
man could be of another opinion ; and such was the influence 
it had, coming as it did from one highly respected among 
his brethren for piety and prudence, that they carried their 
opposition no further. 1 

This is the first time in the history of the Scottish Church 
that we have met with anything resembling the sentiments 
now generally known by the term latitudinarian ; and it is 
rather suspicious that, on this occasion, these loose princi- 
ples should have been employed with success to cajole good 
men into a surrender of the privileges of the Church, and 
into the adoption of a scheme which, in their judgment and 
conscience, they condemned. The same strain of reasoning 
which Cooper employed, with sincerity we doubt not, on the 
present occasion, has too often since that time furnished a 
pretext for introducing the most extensive changes into a 
religious profession, and overthrowing the liberties of the 
Christian Church. If Prelacy were indeed a matter of such 
indifference, why plead for it "the warrand of the word;" 
and why involve a whole church in disorder by attempting 
to intrude it on a reluctant people, who were perfectly well 
pleased with the government they enjoyed? But, in fact, 
nothing can be properly called a matter of indifference which 
affects the honour of the great King and Head of the Church ; 
and we can conceive nothing more impertinent or disgusting 
than the cant of liberality, when assumed by men who, in 
the act of robbing the Church of her dearest rights, affect 
to mourn over the contentions which are the fruits of their 
own selfish policy. 

It has been observed that "James' bishops," as they were 
called, "were prudent and humble men, and gave great 
respect to all honest and deserving ministers as their brethren," 
very different from those that succeeded them about twenty 
years afterwards, whose ambition, in aiming at civil offices, 
induced the nobility to join with those who sought to re- 
establish Presbytery. 2 This remark is so far true, and the 

1 Row's MS. Hist. ad. an. 1610; Cald. MS. Hist. vol. v. ib. 

2 Guthrie's Memoirs, p. 15; Scott's MSS. in Adv. Lib. 


reasons are very obvious. James' bishops were all originally 
Presbyterian ministers,, who were well acquainted with their 
co-presbyters, and had not learned those imperious airs which 
Archbishop Laud taught their successors. His majesty, too, 
in their selection, took care in general to fix upon those who, 
in addition to their servility, possessed the talents and temper 
best fitted for conciliating their brethren. Hence we find 
among them such men as William Cooper, bishop of Galloway, 
who, though Spotswoode accuses him of fondness for popular- 
ity, and Calderwood charges him with various delinquencies, 
seems, on the whole, to have been a good, peaceable, and 
amiable man — a sort of Leighton among the early bishops. 
A very different character was Archbishop Gladstanes of St. 
Andrews, who had formerly been minister of Arbirlot, in 
Angus. Vainglorious, obsequious, and time-serving, this 
prelate was a tool exactly to the taste of James, before whom 
he crouched with all the servility of an eastern slave. " Most 
gracious sovereign," he thus addressed him, "may it please 
your most excellent majesty, as of all vices ingratitude is 
most detestable, I finding myself, not only as first of that 
dead estaitt quhilk your majesty hath re-created, but also in 
my private condition so overwhelmed with your majesty's 
princely and magnifick benignitie, could not bot repaire to 
your majesty's most gracious face, that so unworthy a creature 
micht both see, bless, and thank my earthly creator. As no 
estaitt may say that they are your majesty's creatures as we 
may say, so there is none whose standing is so slippery, when 
your majesty shall frown, as we; for at your majesty's nod we 
must either stand or fall." 1 Gladstanes did not long enjoy 
his poor dignity, having died in May, 1615. According to 
the testimony of his contemporaries, he wasanotorious glutton, 
and brought on himself such a miserable death, that his body 
required to be buried immediately after; yet "the solemnity 
of the funeral was made in the month of June following; and 
the day of his funeral being windy and stormy, blew away 
the pall, and marred all the honours that were carried about 
the empty coffin." 2 

1 Original letter to the king, Sept. 11, 1609; MS. in Adv. Lib., M. 6, 9. 

2 Row has recorded a prayer which he is said to have used after supper, 
too coarse to be here related. Wodrow's Biographical Collections, Mait- 
land edit. vol. i. part i. 


Gladstanes was succeeded in the primacy by John Spots- 
woode, a shrewd and crafty politician, and the author of a 
History of the Church of Scotland, which, as has been well 
observed, might more properly be called "Calumnies against 
the Church of Scotland." This historian, as appears from his 
private correspondence, was engaged in all the Jesuitical plots 
of the government for overturning Presbytery, which he had 
sworn to support, and could hardly be expected to give a 
fair account of transactions in which his own credit was so 
deeply implicated, and for his share in which he was after- 
wards excommunicated by the Church which he had betrayed. 
His falsehoods and misrepresentations have been so com- 
pletely exposed, that to appeal to him now as an authority 
on any point of history affecting the cause of Presbytery, may 
be set down at once as a mark of blindfolded prejudice. 1 

It could hardly be expected that men thus intruded into 
the government of the Church, under the wing of royal pre- 
rogative, would find it easy to gain either respect to their 
persons, or submission to their authority. In fact, the people 
despised them, and the ministers continued to preach, to 
rule, and to administer ordinances, as if no such persons as 
bishops existed. The king found it necessary, therefore, in 
the absence of all respect for their episcopal powers, to arm 
them with civil authority. For this purpose he erected the 
court of high commission, a sort of English inquisition, com- 
posed of prelates, noblemen, knights, and ministers, and 
possessing the combined powers of a civil and ecclesiastical 
tribunal. This nondescript tribunal, the proceedings of 
which were regulated by no fixed laws, was empowered to 
receive appeals from any church court, to summon before it 
all preachers charged with speaking against the established 
order of the Church, and on rinding them guilty to depose 
and excommunicate, or to fine and imprison them. But 
though thus invested with powers which enabled them to 
set at defiance both the ecclesiastical and the civil jurisdic- 
tion, it must be admitted that, for several years, the bishops 
had the prudence to refrain from exercising their authority 
to the extent which the king desired. "They took little upon 

1 I refer here particularly to the exposure made of Spotswoode's nume- 
rous misrepresentations in Dr. M'Crie's Life of Melville, passim. Index, 
vol. ii. 548. 


them," says a Presbyterian writer, "and were very little 
opposed, until the Assembly at Perth, in the year 1618." 1 
During this interval, though the meetings of the General 
Assembly were suspended, sessions, presbyteries, and synods 
continued to conduct business much in the usual way; and 
the Church, if it did not enjoy prosperity, was at least suffered 
to remain in a sort of dead calm, till the waters were again 
disturbed by the tyrannical interference of the king. 

1 Blair's Life, p. 13. 


1617 — 1630. 

The king attempts to introduce the English ceremonies — Prosecution of 
Mr. David Calderwood — The five articles of Perth — Black Saturday — 
Disputes bettocen the ministers and people — King James and the book- 
seller — Ejected ministers — John Welch — Robert Bruce — Robert Blair — 
Patrick Simpson — Andrew Duncan — George Dunbar — John Scrimgeour 
—Robert Cunningham — Revivals at Stewarton and Kirk of Shotts. 

In the spring of 161 7 King James paid a visit to Scotland, 
having, as he expressed it, "a natural and salmon-like affec- 
tion to see the place of his breeding — his native and ancient 
kingdom." He had been led by the bishops to believe that 
the people and their ministers were now quite submissive to 
all his wishes on the point of Church government. He was 
determined, therefore, to try next whether they would submit, 
with equal ease, to the ceremonies of the English Church. 
Among other directions for his reception he ordered repairs 
to be made on the chapel of Holyrood House; an organ was 
sent down, and the English carpenters began to set up 
statues of the twelve apostles, made of carved wood, and 
finely gilded. The people began to murmur — " First came 
the organs, now the images, and ere long we shall have the 
mass." The bishops became alarmed, and at their solicita- 
tion the king, though mightily offended, agreed to dispense 
with the gilded apostles. It was very strange, he said, that 
they would admit figures of "griffins, monsters, and deevils" 
into their churches, and refuse those of holy apostles. His 
other wishes, however, were gratified. A splendid altar was 
erected, with two closed Bibles, two unlighted candles, and 
two empty basins. In the king's chapel the English liturgy 
was ordered to be read daily; the communion was taken in 
a kneeling posture; and the roof of that venerable pile, for 


the first time since the Reformation, echoed to the sounds 
of choristers and instrumental music. 1 

In the parliament, which was held soon after his arrival, 
James manifested his determination to have his example 
imitated in all the churches of the kingdom. With this 
view he prevailed on them to pass an article, ordaining, 
"that whatsoever his majesty should determine in the exter- 
nal government of the Church, with the advice of the bishops, 
and a competent number of the ministry, should have the 
strength of a law." In vain did the more prudent of the 
clergy warn him of the danger of such an enactment. " To 
have matters ruled as they have been in your General 
Assemblies," said his majesty, " I will never agree; for the 
bishops must rule the ministers, and the king rule both."'- 
Intelligence of this having reached the ministers, a number 
of them, out of several parts of the country, met and drew 
up a supplication to the king and parliament, in which, after 
protesting against any innovations in the Church without the 
consent of a free General Assembly, they pleaded that their 
Church had attained to a purity in doctrine, discipline, and 
worship, which had been acknowledged rather as a pattern 
to be followed, than as one requiring to be modelled in con- 
formity with other churches less reformed; that, under their 
form of government, ratified by various acts of parliament 
during his reign, they had enjoyed a peace and freedom from 
schism which the introduction of any novelty would miser- 
ably destroy; and that his majesty had repeatedly assured 
them of his determination not to impose upon them the 
English forms, which had allayed all their suspicions: they 
therefore prayed that he would not suffer the article, of which 
they had heard, to pass into a law, "to the grief of this poor 
Church, that the universal hope of thousands in this land, 
who rejoiced at your majesty's happy arrival, may not be 
turned into mourning." 

This faithful and respectful petition, which was signed by 
fifty-six names, through the cowardice of the person intrusted 
with it was never formally presented; but a copy of it having 
come into his majesty's hands, he was highly incensed, and 
though he found it expedient to defer giving his sanction to 
the obnoxious article, he determined to wreak his displeasure 
1 Cald. MS. Hist. ad. an. 1617. 2 Spotswoode, p. 531. 


on some of the most zealous of the ministers, who were 
summoned to appear before the high commission at St. An- 
drews. As a specimen of the manner in which they were 
treated at this court, we may select the case of Mr. David 
Calderwood, the author of the well known History of the 
Church of Scotland, who has given an account of the whole 
affair in his own simple and graphic manner. "What moved 
you to protest?" asked his majesty. Calderwood answered, 
that "it was an article concluded in parliament, which cut 
off our General Assemblies." The king then inquired how 
long he had been a minister; and having been told, he said, 
" Hear me, Mr. David, I have been an older keeper of 
General Assemblies than you. A General Assembly serves 
to preserve doctrine in purity, and the Church from schism, 
to make confessions of faith, and put up petitions to the 
king in parliament. But for matters of order, rites, and 
things indifferent, that belongs to the king, with advice of 
his bishops." From this royal doctrine Mr. David tendered 
his humble dissent. The king then challenged the last clause 
of the protestation, in which the ministers declared that they 
must be forced rather to incur the censure of his majesty's 
law than to admit any imposition not flowing from the 
Church lawfully convened. Calderwood answered, "That 
whatsoever was the phrase of speech, they meant no other 
thing but to protest that they would give passive obedience 
to his majesty, but could not give active obedience unto any 
unlawful thing which should flow from that article." "Active 
and passive obedience ! " exclaimed the king. "That is, we 
will rather suffer than practise," said Calderwood. " I 
will tell thee what obedience is, man," returned his majesty: 
"what the centurion said to his servants, 'To this man, Go, 
and he goeth; and to that man, Come, and he cometh' — 
that is obedience." "To suffer, sire," replied Calderwood, 
"is also obedience, howbeit not of that same kind; and even 
that obedience is not absolute, but limited, being liable to 
exception of a countermand from a superior power." The 
king here whispered something to Spotswoode, who, turning 
to Calderwood, said, " His majesty saith, that if ye will not 
be content to be suspended spiritually, ye shall be suspended 
corporally." To this wretched witticism the prisoner replied, 
addressing himself to his majesty, " Sire, my body is in your 



[I6l 7 . 

majesty's hands, to do with it as it pleaseth your majesty; 
but as long as my body is free, I will teach, notwithstanding 
of their sentence." 

After some further altercation Caldenvood requested 
leave to address the bishops, which was granted. He argued 
with them that they had no power to suspend or deprive him 
in this court of high commission; "for," said he, "ye have 
no power in this court but by commission from his majesty; 
and his majesty cannot communicate that power to you which 
he claims not for himself." This home-thrust at the author- 
ity of the court, which neither the king nor the bishops could 
well parry, threw the assembly into confusion. We give the 
rest of the scene in Calderwood's own language: — "The Bi- 
shop of Glasgow rounding in his ear, 'Ye are not a wise man; 
ye wot not who are your friends ;' he rounded likewise to the 
bishop and said, 'Wherefore brought ye me here?' Others, 
in the meantime, were reviling him, and some called him a 
proud knave. Others uttered speeches which he could not 
take up for confusion of voices. Others were not ashamed 
to shake his shoulders and dunch him on the neck, he being 
yet upon his knees." The king demanded, in the meantime, 
if he would abstain from preaching for a certain time, in case 
he should command him by his royal authority, as from him- 
self; and Calderwood, thinking he still referred to the sen- 
tence of the commission, and being disturbed by the shaking, 
tugging, and cross-questioning, replied, "I am not minded 
to obey." Upon which he was hurried off, and committed 
to Lord Scoon, to be imprisoned for declining the king's au- 
thority. Scoon, who seems to have taken a malicious plea- 
sure in performing such services, was conducting his prisoner 
along the street, when some one asked, "Where away with 
that man, my lord!" "First to the tolbooth, and then to the 
gallows," said Scoon. Mr. Calderwood having thus discov- 
ered his mistake, took the earliest opportunity of assuring 
his majesty that it was not his authority, but that of the com- 
mission, which he had disowned; but it was not deemed safe 
to allow so bold a champion of Presbytery to stand in the 
way; so he was banished out of the country. Lord Cranston 
earnestly pleaded that the period of his banishment might 
be delayed on account of the tempestuous season of the year. 
This petition was refused. "If he be drowned in the seas," 


said the king, "he may thank God he hath escaped a worse 
death." 1 

Irritated at the unexpected opposition to his measures, 
James vented his rage on the bishops, whom he called "dolts 
and deceivers," because they had made him believe they had 
managed matters so well that his presence was all that was 
wanted to settle them. In the month of November, 1617, 
he convoked a meeting of the clergy, for it could not be 
called a General Assembly, at St. Andrews, and there pro- 
posed to them five articles of conformity with the English 
Church, which having been next year agreed upon at another 
meeting in Perth, are generally known by the name of The 
Five Articles of Perth. As these articles occasioned much dis- 
order in the Church, and led to very serious consequences, 
we may here enumerate them, and subjoin a few remarks to 
explain the opposition made to them by the Church of Scot- 
land. They were as follows: 1. Kneeling at the communion. 
2. The observance of certain holidays, viz. Christmas, Good 
Friday, Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost. 3. Episcopal 
confirmation. 4. Private baptism. 5. Private communion. 

These articles may appear to some too insignificant to re- 
quire or to justify the resistance which was made to them by 
the faithful portion of the Church. But by several of these 
articles, as might easily have been shown, the most sacred 
doctrines of Christianity were involved in danger. We can 
only hint at a few of the leading objections against them. 2 

The first article, viz. that of kneeling at the communion, 
was particularly obnoxious, from its tendency to countenance 
the popish doctrine of the adoration of the host. Although 
this ceremony is retained by the English Church as expres- 
sive of veneration rather than worship, the Scottish minis- 
ters were justly apprehensive that the adoration addressed 
at first to an invisible Being might soon be transferred to 
the visible symbol, and again degenerate into an idolatrous 
worship of the elements. They maintained, besides, that 

1 Calderwood's Hist. p. 682; The Bannatyne Miscellany, p. 205. Calder- 
wood's fate was neither to be hanged nor drowned, he being, soon after 
the re-establishment of Presbytery in 1638, appointed minister of Pencait- 
land, and dying peaceably at Jedburgh, 29th October, 1650. 

2 The disputes on Ritualism lately introduced into the Church of England, 
and leading by no circuitous road into the superstitions of Romanism, throw 
considerable light on the objections of the Scottish Church. 



the practice of sitting at a communion-table, in token of their 
fellowship, which was the common mode of all the other 
reformed churches, was much more agreeable to the example 
of the first supper, than that of receiving the elements indi- 
vidually from the hands of a priest, while kneeling at an altar. 

Against the holidays they objected, that the nativity of 
Christ was of an uncertain date; that the institution of Christ- 
mas was an imitation of the idolatrous Saturnalia of the 
Romans, to coincide with which it was changed by the Ro- 
man Church to the 25th of December; that Easter and Pen- 
tecost were revivals of the ceremonial law of the Jews; that 
the anniversary days of the birth, crucifixion, and resurrec- 
tion of Christ were no more consecrated by these events, 
than were the forms of the manger in which he was born, 
of the cross on which he suffered, and of the sepulchre in 
which he was buried; that they tended, wherever intro- 
duced, to diminish respect for the only day which God had 
made holy, viz. the Christian Sabbath; and that those who 
kept them came under the charge of "observing days, and 
months, and years," a practice expressly condemned in 

The third article, respecting confirmation, was objected to 
chiefly from having no foundation in Scripture, and because 
it implied a confirmation of baptism, as if that ordinance, 
administered by presbyters, were not complete without the 
imposition of hands by a bishop. 

The fourth and fifth articles, viz. the private administra- 
tion of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper our 
fathers condemned as inconsistent with the nature and design 
of these institutions, both of which are Church ordinances, 
and therefore to be administered only when the Church 
is assembled, and as leading to superstitious notions of the 
virtue of the mere outward signs. Though important ordin- 
ances, they denied them to be essential to salvation; and 
to insist on either baptism or the eucharist being administered 
privately seemed to them not only inconsistent with Scrip- 
ture, but fitted to revive those popish doctrines against 
which humanity and reason alike protested — that all unbap- 
tized infants are excluded from bliss, and that the reception 
of the consecrated host on a death-bed is essential to salva- 


But while our fathers had good reasons for condemning 
these ceremonies, as unwarranted and superstitious, there 
was another source of alarm which will be better understood 
by many in our own day than any we have now mentioned. 
They well knew that the moment these articles received the 
sanction of the civil power the bishops would forcibly impose 
them on all, both ministers and people, who, whatever might 
be their private opinions, would be obliged to practise them 
under the severest penalties. 1 Need we wonder, then, that 
they should have strenuously protested against this direct 
imposition on conscience — this tyrannical encroachment, 
which left them no alternative between surrendering their 
Christian liberty, or incurring the consequences of disobey- 
ing the law of the land? 

Such, then, were the celebrated articles which James 
sought to intrude on the Scottish Church. The Assembly 
which met at St. Andrews, much to his chagrin, postponed 
the consideration of them; and on the 25th of August, 1618, 
the last Assembly which met in James' reign, and for twenty 
years afterwards, was held in Perth, for the purpose of ex- 
torting something like a sanction to the obnoxious cere- 
monies. "This Assembly," says Row, "was not made up 
of commissioners sent from presbyteries, but of bishops, 
doctors, deans, and such ministers as were the bishops' 
followers; then the king had his commissioners, and there 
were sundry noblemen and gentlemen who were written for 
by the king and bishops, to keep the said Assembly; and 
sundrie commissioners, sent from presbyteries, were not called 
upon, nor got they any vote there, the moderator knowing 
what they would say." "There was set in the Little Kirk," 
says Calderwood, "a long table, and forms at every side for 
noblemen, barons, burgesses, bishops, and doctors, and at 
the head of it a cross table, with chairs for his majesty's 
commissioners and the moderator. The ministers were left 
to stand behind, as if their place and part had been only to 
behold. But this apparently was done of policy, that they 
might carry some majesty on their part, to dash simple 
ministers." 2 

In an Assembly thus constituted, it need not surprise us 

1 Gillespie's Dispute against English-Popish Ceremonies, p. 4-7. 

2 Row's Hist. ad. an. 1618 ; Calderwood, p. 698. 


that a majority was found willing to vote with the court. 
Archbishop Spotswoode, unable to answer the reasonings of 
those who condemned the articles, burst out in a passion 
with these words, which were remembered long after, — 
"This matter shall not be carried either by arguments or 
votes: if it were but we bishops, with his majesty's commis- 
sioner, we will conclude the matter, and see who dare with- 
stand it!" 1 Having told them he would send up the names 
of all who voted against them to the king, the question was 
put, "Will you consent to the articles, 'or disobey the king?" 
The articles were carried by a considerable majority; but a 
minority of forty-five, even out of this packed Assembly, whom 
no promises could allure or menaces deter from voting 
according to their consciences, saved the Scottish Church 
from absolute degradation. 

When this mock Assembly rose the bishops prepared to 
enforce the obnoxious rites. In a few weeks they were 
ratified by the privy-council, and in July, 162 1, they obtained 
the sanction of parliament. It was remarked, that at the 
very instant when the Marquis of Hamilton, the commissioner, 
rose to touch this act with the royal sceptre, in token of 
ratification, a black thunder-cloud which had for some time 
hung over the city, enveloping it in extraordinary darkness, 
burst, as if immediately over the parliament-house, into a 
tremendous storm; three brilliant flashes of lightning follow- 
ing in quick succession, and rendered more frightful by the 
surrounding gloom, darted in at the great window, and 
seemed to strike directly in the face of the commissioner; 
this was succeeded by terrible peals of thunder, and such a 
tempest of rain and hail, that it was with great difficulty, and 
after long delay, the members were able to reach their 
homes. On this account, as well as of the sad work trans- 
acted on it, this day got the name, which it long retained 
among the people, of Black Saturday? 

Our fathers, who lived under the realizing belief of a 
superintending Providence, directing with the same hand 
the elements of nature and the events of time, were accustom- 
ed to see and hear God in everything. These appearances, 
in the excited state of the public mind, were considered as 
ominous of the wrath of Heaven at this flagrant breach 
1 Blair's Life, p. 15. 3 Row's Hist. ad. an. 1621 ; Calderwood, p. 783. 


of national engagements, and betokening approaching judg- 
ments. Whatever may be thought of the warrantableness of 
thus interpreting the appearances of nature — appearances 
which, it must be allowed, are naturally fitted, and must 
therefore be intended, to inspire us with awe of the divine 
Majesty — the fears to which they gave birth, in the present 
instance, certainly do more honour to the piety of our 
Presbyterian ancestors, than the raillery which Spotswoode 
puts into the mouths of others, who said, "it was to be 
taken as an approbation from heaven, likening the same to 
the thunderings and Mghtenings at the giving of the law of 
Moses!" 1 

The bishops had now obtained all that seemed necessary 
to their complete ascendency. They had procured the 
sanction of what they called a General Assembly; and the 
parliament had ratified their articles, which were now the law 
of the land. All that remained was, that the law should be 
obeyed. But this was not so easily accomplished. When 
Christmas-day, 1618, arrived, the churches of Edinburgh 
were opened, and some of the time-serving ministers, in 
obedience to instructions from the king, observed the 
festival. But notwithstanding all the exertions made by the 
bishops and magistrates, few or none could be prevailed upon 
to attend; the people flocked out of town, or went about 
their ordinary affairs; the kirks were almost deserted, and in 
some of them the dogs were playing in the middle of the 
floor. Mr. Patrick Galloway, one of the ministers, a vain- 
glorious man, who had offered to sign the protestation with 
his blood, and who was formerly so zealous, says Calderwood, 
that "he took it ill if he were asked to eat a Christmas pie" 
— now appeared in the pulpit, fretting and fuming because 
he was not followed in his present course, and denouncing 
famine of the word, deafness, blindness, and leanness upon 
all those who came not to his Christmas sermon. Another 
of the ministers, Mr. William Struthers, inveighed from the 
pulpit against the people of Edinburgh, in a strain of the 
most violent vituperation. And yet this man had been for- 
merly so zealous against the bishops, that he could scarce 
give a comment upon the chapter after meals without a 
stroke at themj and on one occasion it is recorded of him, 
1 Spotswoode, p. 542. 


that being in Glasgow, and happening to observe Bishop 
Spotswoode coming down the street, he went into a shop 
and fell into a swoon. On administering a little aquavits) 
he recovered; and being asked what accident had befallen 
him, "What!" he exclaimed, "saw ye not the character of the 
beast coming?" 1 

These trifling anecdotes carry their own moral with them. 
He has studied history and observed life to little purpose, 
who has not discovered that those who make the most flaming 
professions when professions may be made without danger, 
or who show an overstrained strictness about matters of really 
small moment, are generally the first to yield when the trial 
of principle arrives, and turn out the most bitter opponents 
of their brethren who, though they made less noise about 
their faithfulness, prove nevertheless faithful in the evil day. 

Of all the articles of Perth there was none that proved 
more obnoxious than that of being compelled to kneel at 
the sacrament. The people are, in general, more ready to 
take alarm at trifling innovations in the service where they 
are required to take an active share, than even in matters 
that more nearly concern the truth as it is in Jesus; but this 
ceremony was so identified in their minds with the idolatry 
of Rome — so clearly derived from worshipping the body of 
Christ in the host — that they shrunk from it with horror. 
In some churches, we are told, they went out, and left the 
minister alone; in others the simpler sort, when the officiat- 
ing clergyman insisted on their kneeling, cried out, " The 
danger, if any be, light upon your soul, and not upon ours!" 
The elders and deacons refused to officiate, and the ministers 
were reduced to a sad dilemma. This led, as might have 
been expected, to unseemly altercations, in which the dignity 
of the clerical character suffered from rude collision with the 
common people. One of the deacons, named John Mein, 
seems to have given them more than ordinary provocation, 
by the steadiness with which he stood to his point and 
answered their arguments. 

"What will ye say," said Mr. Galloway, "if I prove kneel- 
ing out of the Scripture? Ps. xcv. 6, ''O come, let us wor- 
ship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker.' 
Heard ye me on that text last Sabbath?" 

1 Calderwood's MS. History, ad. an. 1618. 


"Yes, sir," answered the deacon, "and thought ye proved 
nothing. If you can prove kneeling out of Scripture, I will 
be content to go with you. But ye allege only the 95th 
psalm, which was 1600 years before the institution." 

"May not that content you which has contented the Kirk 
of Scotland?" asked Struthers. 

"Sir, that is a point of papistry," said John, "to believe as 
the Kirk believes." 

"What will you say to this, then," cried Galloway; "the 
Kirk has concluded it, and the king and council has confirmed 
it. Would you set yourself above both Kirk and king?" 

"Sir," replied John, smiling, "ye were wont to say to us 
langsyne, 'Thus saith the Lord;' but now ye change your tune, 
and say, 'Thus saith the Kirk and the king.' "* 

King James, whose ill humour seems to have increased 
with age, was particularly incensed at the people of Edinburgh 
for their opposition to his favourite ceremonies. One James 
Cathkin, a bookseller of that city, was apprehended in London, 
in 16 19, on the charge of having circulated Calderwood's 
treatise against the Perth articles, and was brought before his 
majesty; when the following characteristic conversation took 
place. His majesty asked him where he dwelt? He replied, 
"If it please your majestie, I was born in Edinburgh, and 
dwells in Edinburgh." 

"What religion are you of?" asked the king. 

"Of the religion your majestie professes," said Cathkin. 

This was too much for his majesty, who exclaimed, with 
a tremendous oath, "You are none of my religion! you are 
a recusant — you go not to the church !" 

"If it please your majestie, I go to the Church," said 

"Were you there on Christmas-day?" 


"And why were you not there?" 

Cathkin replied, that holidays had been "casten out of the 
Kirk;" and ventured to hint that "it had been good if our 
ministers had acquainted the session of the Kirk before they 
had brought in these novelties upon us." 

"Plagues on you and the session of your kirk baith!" 
said the king. "When I was in Scotland I keeped Yoole 

1 Calderwood's MS. Hist. ad. an. 1619. 


and Pasch 1 in spite of all your hearts; and," added he, pointing 
to Cathkin, who was on his knees before him, "see, my lords, 
these people will kneel to me, and will not kneel to God. I 
never can get order of thir people of Edinburgh. I forgave 
them the seventeenth day!" (alluding to 17th Dec. 1596.) 
"Ye are worse than Turks and Jews." And so saying, he 
wound up with an execration against the "souls and bodies" 
of the whole population of Edinburgh, whom he consigned 
to the devil and his place of torment, in language too gross 
for repetition. 2 

The history of the Church during the subsequent years of 
James' reign presents little that is interesting or important. 
We may therefore devote the remaining portion of this chap- 
ter to a few sketches of the most eminent of those ministers 
who flourished and suffered during this barren portion of our 
ecclesiastical annals. 

The reader will recollect the six ministers who were tried 
for high treason at Linlithgow, and banished, for having held 
an Assembly at Aberdeen in 1605. Among these worthy 
sufferers in the cause of Christ and his royal prerogative as 
King of Zion, the most remarkable was Mr. John Welch. 
He was by birth a gentleman, his father being laird of Col- 
lieston, an estate in Nithsdale; and he was settled as minis- 
ter, first at Selkirk, and afterwards at Ayr. The accounts 
given of his piety and of his perseverance and success in 
prayer are such as almost to exceed belief in this lukewarm 
age; but the incidents recorded in illustration of these belong 
properly to the province of the biographer. The following, 
however, may be quoted as being, if not a better attested, at 
least a more easily credited narrative. In France, the coun- 
try of his exile, Mr. Welch applied himself with such assiduity 
to the study of the language of the country, that he was able, 
in the course of fourteen weeks, to preach in French, and 
was chosen minister to a Protestant congregation in the town 
of St. Jean D'Angely. War having broken out between 
Louis XIII. and his Protestant subjects, this town was 
besieged by the king in person. On this occasion Welch 
not only exhorted the inhabitants to a vigorous resistance, 
but mounted the walls, and rendered his personal assistance 
to the garrison. The king was at length admitted to the 
1 Christmas and Easter. 2 The Bannatyne, Miscellany, vol. i. pp. 197-206. 

1622.] JOHN WELCH. 121 

town on a treaty; and being displeased that Welch preached 
during his residence in it, he sent the Duke D'Espernon with 
a company of soldiers to take him from the pulpit. When 
the preacher saw the duke enter the church he ordered his 
hearers to make room for the Marshal of France, and desired 
him to sit down and hear the word of God. He spoke with 
such an air of authority that the duke involuntarily took a 
seat and listened to the sermon with great gravity and atten- 
tion. He then brought Welch to the king, who asked him 
how he durst preach there since it was contrary to the laws 
of the kingdom for any of the reformed to preach in places 
where the court resided. "Sir," replied Welch, "if your 
majesty knew what I preached, you would not only come 
and hear it yourself, but make all France to hear it; for I 
preach not as those men you use to hear. First, I preach 
that you must be saved by the merits of Jesus Christ, and 
not your own; and I am sure your conscience tells you that 
your good works will never merit heaven. Next, I preach 
that as you are King of France there is no man on earth 
above you. But these men whom you hear subject you to 
the pope of Rome, which I will never do." Pleased with 
this reply, Louis said to him, "He bien, vons sercz mon ministre 
— Very good, you shall be my minister;" and addressing him 
by the title of "father," assured him of his protection. He 
was as good as his word; for in 162 1, when the town was 
again besieged, he gave directions to take care of his minis- 
ter, and he was safely conveyed with his family to Rochelle. 
Having lost his health, and the physicians having informed 
him that his only chance of recovery was to return to his 
native country, Mr. Welch ventured, in the year 1622, to 
come to London; and his wife, who was a daughter of the 
celebrated John Knox, having obtained access to James, 
petitioned him to allow her husband to return to Scotland. 
On this occasion the following singular colloquy took place: 
The king asked her who was her father. She replied, " Johr 
Knox." " Knox and Welch!" exclaimed he, "the devil never 
made such a match as that." " It's right like, sir," said Mrs. 
Welch; "for we never speired 1 his advice." He then asked her 
how many children John Knox had left, and if they were lads 
or lasses. She said, three, and they were all lasses. "God be 
1 Asked. 


thanked!" cried the king, lifting up both his hands, "for if 
they had been iJirce /ads, I had never bruiked 1 my three king- 
doms in peace!" She again urged her request that he would 
give her husband his native air. "Give him his native air," 
replied the king, "give him the devil!" "Give that to your 
hungry courtiers," said she, offended at his profaneness. 
He told her at last, that if she would persuade her husband 
to submit to the bishops, he would allow him to return to 
Scotland. Mrs. Welch, lifting up her apron, and holding it 
towards the king, replied, in the true spirit of her father, 
"Please your majesty, I'd rather kep 2 his head there!" 
Welch languished a very short time in London, having been 
released by death in May, 1622. 3 

The reader will recollect the noble part acted by Robert 
Bruce in the case of the Gowrie conspiracy. Will it be be- 
lieved that this high-minded gentleman was persecuted till his 
death by the mean jealousy of the bishops, who set spies on 
his conduct, committed him to various prisons, and procured 
orders to drag him like a common felon from one corner of 
the kingdom to another? From the descriptions of contem- 
poraries it appears that Bruce's appearance and manner 
corresponded with the dignity of his mind. " He had," says 
Livingstone, who was well acquainted with him, "a very 
majestick countenance, and whenever he did speak in public 
or private, yea, when he read the W T ord, I thought it had 
such a force as I never discerned in any other man. He 
was, both in public and private, very short in prayer with 
others; but then, every sentence was like a bolt shot up to 
heaven; yea, I have heard him say that he wearied when 
others continued long in prayer; but being alone, he spent 
much of his time in that exercise. It was his custom, after 
the first sermon, to retire by himself for prayer; and one day 
some noblemen who had far to ride sent the beadle to learn 
if there was any appearance of his coming. The man returned 
and told them, 'I think he shall not come this day, for I 
overheard him always say to another, that he will not go, and 
cannot go, without Him, and I do not hear the other answer 
him a word at all.'" 4 It is needless to say who "the other" 
person was whose silence astonished the ignorant beadle. 

1 Enjoyed. 2 Receive. 3 M'Crie's Life of Knox, vol. ii. pp. 271-274. 
4 Livingstone's Characteristics, art. " R. Bruce." 

1622-31.] ROBERT BLAIR. 1 23 

The manner of Brnce's death, which took place in August, 
163 1, was beautifully in accordance with the tenor of his life. 
On the morning of his departure, his illness consisting chiefly 
j in the debility of old age, he arose to breakfast with his 
family, and having eaten an egg, he desired his daughter to 
bring him another. Instantly, however, assuming an air of 
deep meditation, he said, "Hold, daughter, my Master calls 
me!" and having asked for the family Bible, and finding 
that his sight was gone, he said, "Cast up to me the 8th 
chapter of the epistle to the Romans, and place my finger on 
these words, 'I am persuaded that neither death nor life shall 
be able to separate me from the love of God which is in 
Christ Jesus our Lord.'" "Now," he said, "is my finger 
upon the place?" and being told it was, he added, "Then 
God be with you, my children; I have breakfasted with you, 
and shall sup with my Lord Jesus Christ this night!" And 
so saying the good man expired. 

The memoirs of Robert Blair, who was first settled at 
Bangor in Ireland, and latterly at St. Andrews, exhibit the 
history of a mind deeply exercised about eternal things, and 
may be regarded as a fair specimen of the warm and manly 
piety, chastened by knowledge and rendered firm and con- 
sistent by the admixture of public principle, which distin- 
guished many in these times. The most singular feature in the 
religious history of these good men was their wonderful 
success in obtaining answers to their prayers for temporal 
favours. We will introduce one or two instances of these 
"returns of prayers," as they were termed, with an observa- 
tion made by Mr. Blair, after recounting an extraordinary 
incident in his own life: "If any one who may read these 
things shall be offended, seeing revelations have now ceased, 
and that we are to keep close to the will of God revealed in 
the Scriptures; I answer for their satisfaction, that if any 
creature, be he angel or man, add anything to that perfect 
rule of faith and manners, or reveal anything contrary thereto, 
let him be accursed. This we leave to Papists and sectaries. 
But, in the meantime, it ought not to be denied that the 
Lord is pleased sometimes to reveal to his servants, especially 
in a suffering condition, some events concerning themselves, 
and that part of the Church of God in which they live." 1 
1 Memoirs of the Life of Mr. Robert Blair, p. 78. 


There is much implied in these words, "especially in a suf- 
fering condition." We know not what it is to suffer for the 
gospel, and therefore know not "the consolations of Christ" 
which abound under these sufferings. It is only when the 
Master sees his servants sick and exhausted, and ready to 
perish in his service, that he brings forth such cordials to 
recruit their spirits. 

Patrick Simpson was first ordained minister of Cramond, 
but was afterwards transported to Stirling, where he continued 
till his death. He was a very learned man, and was the 
author of a history of the Church, and of some of her ancient 
councils. On being blamed by one of his friends for wasting 
so much time in the study of pagan writers, he replied that 
his purpose was "to adorn the house of God with these 
Egyptian jewels." In 1601 his wife, who was a woman of 
singular piety, fell sick, and under her indisposition was as- 
sailed by the most tearful temptations, supposing herself to 
be delivered up unto Satan. Having fallen into one of those 
fits of despair on Sabbath morning, when Mr. Simpson was 
going out to preach, he was exceedingly distressed, and be- 
took himself to prayer; and on his returning to the company 
present he assured them that "they who had been witnesses 
to that sad hour should yet see the adversary of her soul 
meet with a shameful defeat." Her distraction continued 
till the Tuesday morning preceding her death, when, on com- 
ing from his retirement, he said to the attendants, "Be of 
good comfort, for I am sure that ere ten o'clock of the day 
that brand shall be plucked out of the fire." He then prayed 
at her bed-side, and upon his alluding to Jacob wrestling 
with God she sat up in the bed, drew the curtains aside, and 
said, "Thou art this day a Jacob, who hast wrestled and pre- 
vailed; and now God has made good his word which he 
spake this morning to you, for I am plucked out of the hands 
of Satan, and he shall have no power over me." Shortly 
after this she expired, uttering only the language of comfort, 
hope, and joy. 1 Patrick Simpson took an active share in 
the struggles of the Church against the encroachments of the 
bishops; he nobly refused a bishopric when offered to him; 
and he died almost broken-hearted when the Perth articles 
were agreed upon, in March, 16 18. 

1 Livingstone's Charact. art. "P. Simpson;" Wodrow's Analecta 

1619-26.] ANDREW DUNCAN. 125 

The next instance partakes almost of the nature of romance. 
Andrew Duncan, minister of Crail, in Fife, was distinguished 
by his sufferings in defence of the Presbyterian polity. He 
was another of those who were banished for having attended 
the Assembly at Aberdeen; and on his return in 1619 he 
was again brought into trouble, being summoned before the 
high commission court of the bishops for opposing the Perth 
articles. On this occasion he boldly admonished his judges 
of their sin and danger. "Pity yourselves," he said, in his 
protest, "for the Lord's sake; lose not your own souls, I be- 
seech you, for Esau's pottage; remember Balaam, who was 
cast away by the deceit of the wages of unrighteousness: for- 
get not how miserable Judas was, who lost himself for a trifle 
of money, which never did him good. Better be pined to 
death by hunger than for a little pittance of the earth perish 
for ever, and never be recovered so long as the days ot 
heaven shall last and the years of eternity shall endure." 
Spotswoode, the archbishop, on glancing at the faithful docu- 
ment, tossed it from him in disdain; another of the bishops, 
picking it up, said, "He calls us Esaus, Balaams, and 
Judases." "Not so," said Mr. Duncan; "read again; beware 
that you be not like them." He had soon an opportunity 
of exemplifying his doctrine; for having been banished to 
Berwick, to live "upon his own charges," he was almost 
literally "pined to death by hunger." With a numerous 
family, and a wife far advanced in pregnancy, he was reduced 
to the utmost hardship. One night in particular, when 
the children were crying for bread and there was none in 
the house to give them, the poor exiled minister occupied 
himself alternately in praying to God, pacifying his children, 
and comforting his partner. He exhorted her to wait 
patiently on God, who was now trying them, but would un- 
doubtedly provide for them, though he should rain down 
bread from heaven. They had neither friend nor acquaint- 
ance in that place to whom they could make their case 
known. Early next morning, however, a man brought them 
a sackful of provisions, and went away without telling them 
whence it came, though entreated to do so. Shortly after 
this, during the night, when the good man knew not where 
to apply for aid to his suffering wife, a lady came to their 
door, and having sent the servant back with her horse, to return 


for her at a certain time, requested permission to act the part 
of servant and nurse. She continued to do so till her services 
were no longer required, and on her departure presented the 
astonished and grateful couple with a box containing linen, 
cordials, and money; but, notwithstanding all their entreaties, 
would neither tell who she was nor whence she came. 

This practice of banishing ministers from one part of the 
country to another must, particularly in those cases where 
they had large families, have been very grievous and oppres- 
sive ; yet they seem to have endured it with great cheerful- 
ness. One of them, George Dunbar, minister of Ayr, 
who had a number of young children, was twice thrust out 
by the bishops. At that time there were few such things as 
coaches or carriages in the country ; and it may amuse some 
of my readers to learn that the children on these occasions 
had to be transported in creels placed on horseback. When 
the bishop's messenger came the second time to Mr. Dunbar's 
house to turn them out, one of his little daughters, who had 
no doubt suffered by the former transportation, cried out to 
the man, "What! and is Pharaoh's heart hardened still?" 
All that her father said, on hearing the summons, was, "Mar- 
garet," addressing his wife, "prepare the creels again." 1 

Some are apt to imagine that all the ministers of a certain 
period and persuasion were possessed of the same character; 
and sourness of temper has been supposed to have been the 
characteristic feature of Presbyterians. A minuter acquaint- 
ance with them would correct such an impression; for we 
meet with all different sorts of temperament among them — 
melancholy and lively — grave and facetious — rude and gentle. 
In short, they resembled each other only in their piety and 
fidelity. Robert Boyd of Trochrig was a man of profound 
learning, sagacity, and integrity, and had he not been driven 
about by the bishops from one place to another he might 
have proved an ornament to his native country. He was 
successively principal of Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, 
and minister of Paisley; but in none of these situations was 
he allowed to remain in peace; and from the last place, to 
the disgrace of Paisley, he was driven by a rascally mob with 
stones and dirt, so that he retired in disgust to his property 
of Trochrig. He was a man of grave and severe character, 
1 Livingstone's Characteristics. 


but he tells us that his brother, whose untimely loss he de- 
plored, was constantly laughing and joking. 

John Scrimgeour, minister of Kinghorn, who stood boldly 
out against Episcopacy, was, as Livingstone tells us, "a man 
rude-like in his clothing, in his behaviour, and some of his 
expressions, but of a tender loving heart." Though a great 
scholar, he used to say he wished that all books were burned 
except the Bible and a few notes upon it. His temper was 
so irritable, that, like Jonah, he could not restrain himself 
from expressing his displeasure even before God. A favour- 
ite daughter being supposed near death, he used in secret 
prayer the following extraordinary language : "Thou knovvest, 
O Lord, I have been serving thee in the uprightness of my 
heart according to my measure, and thou seest that I take 
pleasure in this child; and cannot I obtain such a thing as 
this at thy hand?" with other expressions of a similar nature, 
which, though the prayer was granted, he said "he would 
not utter again for all the world." On his death-bed his body 
was racked by a very painful disorder; and in the interval 
of one of the attacks he said to Mr. Livingstone: "John, I 
have been a rude stunkard man all my days, and now by 
this pain the Lord is dantoning (subduing) me, to make me 
as a lamb before he take me home to himself." 

A very different character from this, though essentially like, 
was Robert Cunningham, minister of Holywood in Ireland. 
"He was," says the same writer, "the one man, to my dis- 
cerning, of all that ever I saw, that resembled most the meek- 
ness of Jesus Christ in his whole carriage; and was so far 
reverenced by all, even the most wicked, that he was often 
troubled with that scripture, 'Woe to you when all men speak 
well of you.' " The sweetness of his disposition endeared 
him so much to his brethren, that they could not endure to 
hear of any one harming him; and Mr. Blair, on learning that 
the Bishop of Down intended to depose him, told the prelate, 
with solemn earnestness: "Sir, you may do to me and some 
others as you please, but if ever you meddle with Mr. Cun- 
ningham your cup will be full !" 

The death-bed scene of this amiable man corresponded 
with the gentleness of his nature. Having been thrust out 
of his charge in Ireland, he came over to his native country, 
but never held up his head again. "The bishop," he said. 


"has taken away my ministry from me, and I may say my life 
also, for my ministry is dearer to me than my life." 1 During 
his sickness he was heard to say, "I see Christ standing over 
death's head, and saying, Deal warily with my servant; loose 
now this pin, now that, for this tabernacle must be set up 
again." A little before his departure, March, 1637, his wife 
sitting by his bed-side, with her hand clasped in his, he com- 
mended to God first his congregation, then his brethren in 
the ministry, and his children, and concluded with, "And 
last, O Lord, I recommend to thee this gentlewoman, who 
is no more my w r ife !" Thus saying, he softly disengaged his 
own hand, and gently moved that of his wife a little way from 
him. At this affecting farewell she burst into tears, and in 
the act of attempting to allay her grief he fell asleep in Jesus. 2 
The general state of religion in Scotland during the earlier 
part of the seventeenth century was very far from being 
satisfactory. In the large towns, which had enjoyed the 
labours of a faithful ministry, the good fruits were apparent 
in the holy lives of many; but in consequence of the niggardly 
provision made for the support of a settled ministry, many 
parishes in the country were left, in a great measure, deso- 
late; the place of ministers being often supplied by readers 
who, for a small salary, were engaged to read portions of the 
Scriptures, and the prayers which were contained in the Book 
of Common Order, prefixed to the Psalms in metre. It may 
be easily imagined that this class of men, little raised above 
the peasantry from which they were chosen, without learning, 
without authority, would ill supply the place of a regular and 
well-trained ministry. The General Assembly, long before, 
were deeply affected with this state of spiritual destitution, 
and many were the plans proposed and the efforts made to 
supply the country with good and faithful pastors. But, in 
the absence of all funds for their support, this was found im- 
practicable; and on the entrance of Prelacy the case became 
still worse, two-thirds of the benefices formerly appropriated 
to the maintenance of the ministry being claimed by the 
bishops to support the dignity of their station. Under the 

1 George Wishart, the eminent martyr, regarded his suspension from 
preaching in the same light: "He grew pensive; and being asked the 
reason, said, ' What do I differ from a dead man, but that I eat and drink?' " 
(Clark's Gen. Martyr, p. 563). 

2 Livingstone's Characteristics. 

1626-37-] WITCHCRAFT. 120 

rule of these prelates, who were too much taken up with their 
own projects of worldly ambition to pay much regard to the 
interests of religion, the pulpits were filled for the most part 
with a time-serving clergy, and the people allowed to sink 
into spiritual apathy. 

At this period, therefore, the state of religion in Scotland 
was very peculiar; some spots being favoured with a faithful 
ministry and richly cultivated, while others were left in their 
native sterility; and the character of the people corresponded, 
being something like the prophet's figs, "the good, very good, 
and the evil, very evil." In some parishes where the gospel 
was preached piety flourished to an uncommon degree, and 
discipline was exercised with a rigour which, in the present 
day, would be considered intolerable. In other places the 
people remained destitute of all privileges and all restraint, 
in a state of ignorance, superstition, and crime, very little 
better than that which existed in the days of Popery. This 
accounts for the apparent contradictions which the records 
of the time may be found to contain. The country, in fact, 
was but partially civilized, and the ministers of religion had 
to contend not only with the ordinary fruits of human de- 
pravity, but with strange forms of evil, engendered and fos- 
tered in the shades of that long dark night from which they 
had lately escaped. 

The most singular, certainly, of all the crimes which char- 
acterized this age, and which has occasioned most speculation, 
was that of witchcraft. The prosecutions instituted both 
before civil and ecclesiastical tribunals, against those who 
were charged with this offence, exhibit a very strange picture 
of society. It does not come within our present province 
to enter upon this subject; nor is it necessary to discuss the 
policy of those laws which were enacted in the reign of James 
VI. against this crime, and under the operation of which so 
many unhappy individuals were subjected to a cruel death. 
We know that the unholy arts of necromancy, sorcery, and 
divination, practised among the heathen nations of antiquity, 
were prohibited by the law of Moses under the penalty of 
death, as involving the worship of false gods, or treason 
against Heaven; and that witchcraft is among the sins con- 
demned in the New Testament. Whether the "god of this 
world" is now permitted to exercise his power in the same 


manner as then over the souls and bodies of men may admit 
of question; but it cannot be denied that even the pretence 
or profession of holding intercourse with evil spirits and 
practising diabolical arts, amounts to a crime of no light 
consideration, either in a moral or civil point of view; and it 
is certain that at this period of our history there were indi- 
viduals who avowedly acted as the agents of Satan, and 
practised on the credulity and the superstitious fears of their 
neighbours to an extent of which we can form no conception, 
often employing their arts to the vilest of purposes. It is 
melancholy to think that so many wretched creatures should 
have fallen victims to these delusions; but while we condemn 
the cruelties exercised in their discovery and punishment, we 
should bear in mind the peculiar state of society at the time. 
It is unfair to single out the clergy as eminently chargeable 
with these prosecutions, in which they only participated with 
persons of all ranks — with the king on the throne, the judges 
on the bench, and the most learned men of the age. And 
it is quite preposterous to confine the charge to the Presby- 
terian ministers ; for the trial and burning of witches went on 
with even superior activity and cruelty during the reign of 
Prelacy, both before and after the Restoration. 

In the midst of all this corruption, however, and in spite of 
the banishment of so many faithful ministers, the gospel 
nourished in some places to an unprecedented degree. The 
persecutors might remove the labourers from the field, but 
they could not destroy the fruits of their labours. A spirit 
of grace and supplication was poured out on their bereaved 
flocks, and they were wonderfully enabled in patience to 
possess their souls, so that no sufferings could induce them 
to abandon their principles, or resign themselves to despair. 
"Nay," says the author of memoirs in reference to this 
period, "when the darkness was at the greatest, and when, 
to the eye of reason, there seemed scarcely a ray of hope, the 
Presbyterians declared that utter desolation shall yet be to 
the haters of the virgin daughter of Scotland. The bride 
shall yet sing as in the days of her youth. The dry olive- 
tree shall again bud, and the dry dead bones shall live." 
Many faithful ministers, such as Dickson, Bruce, Livingstone, 
and Henderson, had great boldness given them to preach the 
gospel, with the connivance, or in spite of the mandates of 

1625-30.] REVIVAL AT STEWARTON. 131 

the bishops: and two remarkable revivals took place, one at 
Stewarton in 1625, and the other at the Kirk of Shotts in 
1630, which deserve to be recorded. 

The parish of Stewarton at the period referred to was 
favoured with an excellent minister, Mr. Castlelaw; but it is 
remarkable that the principal instrument of the revival was 
not he, but the minister of the neighbouring parish of Irvine, 
Mr. Dickson. This good man had been formerly professor 
of moral philosophy in the University of Glasgow, and was 
settled in Irvine in 1618. His zeal against the Perth arti- 
cles exposed him to the rage of the bishops, who summoned 
him before the high commission court, and after subjecting 
him to the most insulting treatment, banished him to Turriff, 
in the north of Scotland. To all this Dickson meekly replied, 
"The will of the Lord be done; though ye cast me off, the 
Lord will take me up. Send me whither you will, I hope 
my Master will go with me, as being his own weak servant." 
By the intercession of the Earl of Eglinton, whose countess, 
though reared in her youth at court, was an ornament to her 
Christian profession, and exerted all her influence for the 
promotion of religion and the protection of its faithful minis- 
ters, the pastor was restored to his beloved people. After 
his return in 1623 his ministry was singularly honoured of 
God for the conviction and conversion of multitudes. 
Crowds under spiritual concern came from all the parishes 
round about Irvine, and many settled in the neighbourhood 
to enjoy his ministrations. Thus encouraged, Mr. Dickson 
began a weekly lecture on the Mondays, being the market- 
day in Irvine, when the town was thronged with people from 
the country. The people from the parish of Stewarton, 
especially, availed themselves of this privilege, to which they 
were strongly encouraged by their own minister. The im- 
pression produced upon them was very extraordinary. In a 
large hall within the manse there would often be assembled 
upwards of a hundred persons, under deep impressions of 
religion, waiting to converse with the minister, whose public 
discourses had led them to discover the exceeding sinfulness 
of sin, and to cry, "What shall we do to be saved?" And it 
was by means of these week-day discourses and meetings 
that the famous Stewarton revival, or the Stewarton sickness, 
as it was derisively called, began and spread afterwards from 


house to house for many miles along the valley in Ayrshire 
through which the Stewarton water runs. Extravagances, as 
might be expected, took place during this period of excite- 
ment, from which some took occasion to bring reproach on 
the whole proceedings; 1 but these were checked and con 
demned by Mr. Dickson and others, who conversed with 
them; and the sacred character of the work was attested 
by the solid, serious, and practical piety which distinguished 
the converts. Many who had been well known as most 
abandoned characters and mockers at religion, being drawn 
by curiosity to attend these lectures, afterwards became 
completely changed, showing by their life and conversation 
that the Lord had "opened their hearts to attend to the 
things spoken" by his servant. 2 

The impulse given by this revival continued from 1625 to 
1630, when it was followed by a similar effusion of the influ- 
ences of the Spirit in another part of the country. This took 
place at the Kirk of Shotts. And here also it is observable 
that the honour of originating the revival was reserved not 
to the minister of the parish, though a good man, but to one 
of those faithful servants who suffered for their nonconformity 
to the innovations of the time; the Lord thus signally ac- 
complishing his word, "Them that honour me, I will honour." 
The circumstances which led to this revival were the follow- 
ing: Some ladies of rank who had occasion to travel that 
way had received civilities at different times from Mr. Hance, 
the minister of Shotts; and on one occasion, when their 
carriage broke down near the manse, he kindly invited them 
to alight, and remain till it was repaired. During their stay 
they noticed that the house was much dilapidated, and in 
return for his attentions they got a new manse erected for 
him in a better situation. Mr. Hance, on receiving so sub- 
stantial a favour, waited on the ladies to thank them, and 
wished to know if there was anything he could do to 
testify his gratitude. It is pleasing to know that at this time, 
as well as afterwards, the noblest of the daughters of Scotland 
distinguished themselves by their zeal in the cause of religion. 
These ladies loved the gospel, and the persecuted ministers 

1 "The ignorant and proud secure livers called them the dafl people of 
Stewarton." — Life of Robert Blair, p. 18. 

2 Gillies' Historical Collections, vol. i. p. 306. 


who were contending for its purity. They, therefore, g] 
seized the opportunity of asking Mr. Hance to invite such of 
them as they named to assist at the sacrament, that they 
might enjoy the benefit of their ministrations, and afford to 
others an opportunity of partaking in a privilege at this time 
rarely enjoyed. The minister gladly consented; and informa- 
tion of it spreading abroad, an immense concourse of people 
gathered from all parts to attend the dispensation of the ordi- 
nance, which was fixed for Sabbath, the 20th of June, 1630. 

Among the ministers invited on this occasion, at the re- 
quest of these ladies, were the noble and venerable champion, 
Robert Bruce of Kinnaird, who was still able to preach with 
his wonted majesty and authority, and John Livingstone, 
chaplain to the Countess of Wigton, who was afterwards 
settled some time in Ireland, but who at present was only .a 
preacher, and about twenty-seven years of age. Much of 
the spirit of light and love was imparted during the services 
of the communion Sabbath; and so filled were the communi- 
cants with the joy and peace which they had experienced, that, 
instead of retiring to rest, they joined together in small com- 
panies, and spenjt the whole night in devotional exercises. 

It had not been usual before this time to have service on 
the Monday after the dispensation of the Lord's Supper; but 
God had vouchsafed so much of his gracious presence on 
the preceding days of this solemnity, that they knew not how 
to part on this Monday without thanksgiving and praise. 
John Livingstone was with difficulty prevailed on to preach 
the sermon. In the memoirs of his life, written by himself, 
he gives the following memorandum in reference to this 
discourse: "The only day in all my life wherein I found 
most of the presence of God in preaching was on a Monday 
after the communion, preaching in the church-yard of Shotts, 
June 21, 1630. The night before I had been with some 
Christians, who spent the night in prayer and conference. 
When I was alone in the fields, about eight or nine of the 
clock in the morning, before we were to go to sermon, there 
came such a misgiving of spirit upon me, considering my 
unworthiness and weakness, and the multitude and expecta- 
tion of the people, that I was consulting with myself to have 
stolen away somewhere and declined that day's preaching, 
but that I thought I durst not so far distrust God, and so 


went to sermon, and got good assistance about an hour and 
a half upon the points which I had meditated on: 'Then will 
I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from 
all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. 
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put 
within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your 
flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh' (Ezek. xxxvi. 
25, 26). And in the end, offering to close with some words 
of exhortation, I was led on about an hour's time, in a strain 
of exhortation and warning, with such liberty and melting of 
heart, as I never had the like in public all my lifetime." 1 

To this sermon, under the blessing of God, no less than 
five hundred people ascribed their conversion. And in gra- 
titude for such a remarkable token of the divine countenance 
on this day the Church of Scotland has ever since devoted 
a part of the Monday after a communion Sabbath to the 
duty of public thanksgiving. 

Some remarkable incidents occurred on that Monday, one 
of which, as illustrating the striking effect produced by Mr. 
Livingstone's discourse, may be now related. "Three young 
gentlemen belonging to Glasgow had made an appointment 
to go to Edinburgh to attend some public amusements. 
Having alighted at Shotts to take breakfast, one of their num- 
ber proposed to go and hear sermon — probably more from 
curiosity than any other motive; and for greater expedition 
they arranged to come away at the end of the sermon, before 
the last prayer. But the power of God accompanying the 
sermon was so felt by them, that they could not go away 
till all was over. When they returned to take their horses, 
they called for some refreshment before they mounted; but 
when it was set upon the table they all looked to one another, 
none of them daring to touch it till a blessing was asked; 
and as they were not accustomed formerly to attend to such 
things, one of them at last said, 'I think we should ask a 
blessing to our drink.' The others assented at once to this 
proposal, and put it on one of their number to do it, to which 
he readily consented. And when they had done, they could 
not rise till another had returned thanks. They went on 
their way more sedately than they used to do, but none of 
them mentioned their inward concern to the others, only 

1 Life of Mr Tohn Livingstone, p. 14. 


now and then one would say, 'Was it not a great sermon we 
heard?' another would answer, 'I never heard the like of it.' 
They went to Edinburgh, but instead of waiting on diversions 
or company, they kept their rooms the greater part of the 
time they were there, which was only about two days, when 
they were all quite weary of Edinburgh, and proposed to 
return home. Upon the way home they did not discover 
the state of their minds to one another; and after arriving 
in Glasgow they kept themselves very much retired, coming 
seldom out. At last one of them made a visit to his friend, 
and declared to him what God had done for him at the Kirk 
of Shotts. The other frankly owned the concern that he had 
been brought under at the same time; and both of them pro- 
ceeding to the third, and finding him in the same state of 
mind, they all three agreed to have a fellowship-meeting. 
They continued to maintain a practice suitable to their pro- 
fession for the remainder of their lives, and became eminently 
useful in their day and generation." 1 

From this and other well-attested instances it appears 
that the revival on this occasion was not characterized by 
those excesses which have brought discredit on similar scenes 
in our own country and elsewhere. The word of God sank 
deep into the hearts of the hearers, forcing them to retire, 
like the stricken deer, into solitude, there to weep and mourn 
till the dart was extracted by the hand that had launched it, 
and the balm of consolation was poured into the bleeding 
wound. It was some time before the modesty of the converts 
would permit them to own the change wrought upon them, 
till, like the spring of living water, which cannot be controlled 
or concealed, the grace of God evinced its power by bursting 
from the once "stony heart," and pouring itself forth in the 
pure, peaceful, and fruitful stream of a holy conversation. 
And it is worthy of remark, that then, as it has often been 
both before and since, the Most High was visibly preparing 
his Church by a copious effusion of his Holy Spirit, manifested 
in the general revival of religion, for the struggles which 
awaited her, in asserting his righteous claims against the 
powers of this world, and carrying into effect the noble en- 
terprises which were before her. We now enter on the his- 
tory of what has been termed the Second Reformation. 
1 Gillies' Hist. Collections, vol. i. pp. 308-311. 

1633 — 1638. 

Accession of Charles I. — His visit to Scotland — Land's Service Book — Its 
reception in Scotland — The covenant renewed — State of parties — Alex- 
ander Henderson — Earls Londonn and Rothes — Hamilton^ visit to 
Scotland — Glasgow Assembly, 1 638 — Presbyterian form of worship. 

Charles I. succeeded to die throne of England in March, 
1625. Naturally reserved, imperious, and obstinate, he had 
imbibed from his father, James VI., the most extravagant 
notions of monarchical authority. He was taught to hold, as 
a point of religious rather than political faith, that the king, 
in his sole person, was superior to all law, civil or ecclesiasti- 
cal. Whatever might be his private virtues (and they have 
been greatly exaggerated), there can be no doubt that his 
conduct as a prince, from the commencement of his reign, 
was violent and unconstitutional. Yielding himself to the 
influence of his queen, a popish princess, and to the guidance 
of High Church counsellors, who flattered his love of arbitrary 
power, Charles soon began that course of opposition to par- 
liament and people which ended in his ruin. 

In June, 1633, he paid a visit to Scotland to receive the 
crown of that ancient kingdom. Our sagacious countrymen 
were not long in discovering the real character of their new 
monarch. The first thing that excited their suspicions was 
the open profanation of the Lord's-day in the royal house- 
hold. Laud had by this time republished King James' 
infamous Book of Sports, afterwards ratified by Charles, for 
allowing of pastimes on the Lord's-day, "which," says White- 
locke, "gave great distaste to many others as well as those 
who were usually called Puritans." 1 It was, therefore, with 
feelings of no ordinary alarm that the inhabitants of Edin- 

1 Whitelocke's Memorials, pp. 17-19. 


burgh witnessed the example given by the court, when they 
heard the sacred quietude and peaceful devotions of their 
Sabbath disturbed, for the first time, by the sounds of unholy 
mirth and boisterous revelry. 1 

Charles was crowned "with such rites, ceremonies, and 
forms, as made many good Christians admire," says Row, 
"that such things should be used in this reformed Kirk." 
During this ceremony Laud openly insulted one of the 
bishops, who, less ostentatious than the rest, did not appear 
in full episcopal costume. Thrusting him from the left hand 
of the king, he said, "How dare you, sir, appear in this place 
without your canonicals?" On the following Sabbath, the 
king heard sermon in the High Church, and when the ordi- 
nary reader was about to commence the psalm, one of the 
bishops came down from the king's loft, and after some 
angry words pulled him from the desk, substituting two 
English choristers in their vestments, who, with the assist- 
ance of the bishops, performed the service after the English 
form. 2 Thereafter Guthry, bishop of Moray, mounted the 
pulpit, and addressed the king with such fulsome panegyric, 
that his majesty, fond as he was of such incense, blushed for 

In the parliament which met immediately after, the king 
began his campaign as the champion of Prelacy, by propos- 
ing an act empowering him to regulate ecclesiastical vest- 
ments. From the specimen which they had seen at the 
coronation, the parliament was startled at the motion ; and 
when the act was read for their approval, Lord Melville, an 
aged nobleman, rose and said, "I have sworn, sire, with your 
father and the whole kingdom to the Confession of Faith, in 
which these innovations were solemnly abjured." Others of 
the noblemen began to make similar objections, upon which 
Charles pulled out a list from his pocket, and said, " Gentle- 
men, I have all your names here, and I'll know who will do 
me service, and who not this day." Notwithstanding this 
illegal and disgraceful threat the votes carried against his 
majesty; the clerk, however, suborned for the purpose, de- 
clared that they were in his favour; and when the Earl of 
Rothes contradicted this the king declared that the report 
of the clerk must be held decisive, unless Rothes chose to 

1 Row's Hist. p. 279. 3 Ibid. 


challenge his veracity at the bar of the house, and, on failing 
in his proof, to suffer the penalty of death. The nobleman, 
disgusted at this conduct, or unwilling to expose his majesty, 
declined the perilous task, and the articles were ratified as 
the deed of parliament. 1 

The gratulations with which Charles had been received 
on his arrival were now exchanged for very different symp- 
toms. On expressing his astonishment at this change of the 
public feeling, he was honestly told the reason by Lord 
Loudoun: "Sire, the people of Scotland will obey you in 
everything with the utmost cheerfulness, provided you do 
not touch their religion and conscience." 

Prelacy had now been established in Scotland for thirty 
years, and yet the antipathy against it was becoming every 
day more intense. The conduct of the prelates and of the 
clergy, especially that of the younger portion of them whom 
they had obtruded on the flocks of the banished ministers, 
did not tend to abate this feeling. These novices, who had 
neither piety nor learning to recommend them, disdained to 
mingle with the people ; they aped the manners of the higher 
classes, and even among these assumed a haughtiness of 
demeanour which filled our nobles with indignation. An 
incident, bearing on this point, is related by Sir James 
Balfour. Charles was extremely desirous that the primate of 
Scotland (Spotswoode) should have precedence of the chan- 
cellor; "which," says Sir James, "the Lord-chancellor Hay, 
a gallant stout man, would never condescend to, nor ever 
suffer him to have place of him, do what he could." Once 
and again the king attempted to gain this point, so anxious 
was he to humble the nobility and exalt the clergy; and on 
his coronation he sent Sir James to the doughty old chan- 
cellor, with a request that he would "but only for that day 
give place to the archbishop." Lord Hay's reply was in the 
true spirit of a Scottish chief. "He was ready to lay down 
his office at his majesty's feet, but since it was his royal will 
that he should enjoy it with all the privileges of the same, 
never a stoled priest in Scotland should set a foot before 
him, so long as his blood was hot." 2 The prosecution of 

1 Burnet's History of his Own Times, i. 24, 25; Row's Hist. pp. 250, 252; 
Rushworth, ii. 183. 

2 That is, so long as he lived. 


Lord Balmerino, indicted for high treason, for having at- 
tempted to use the privilege of petition, viewed in connection 
with similar proceedings in England, tended greatly to alarm 
the Scots nobility. In addition to all this, a spirit of repen- 
tance seems to have been poured out on the people, leading 
many seriously to reflect on the share they had in procuring 
the calamities now impending over the church. They began 
to contrast the days they had enjoyed under the pure minis- 
tration of the gospel with those in which they now lived; and 
their faithful pastors now banished far away with the worthless 
hirelings who had been intruded upon them. The result was 
deep compunction for their contempt of former privileges and 
breach of solemn engagements, on account of which they now 
considered themselves to be justly punished by Heaven. 

Thus it will be perceived, that about this period everything 
was prepared for an explosion; and yet this was the time 
fixed for introducing fresh innovations of a character still 
more obnoxious than all the preceding. No change had as 
yet been attempted on the form of public prayer, which was 
still conducted, externally at least, as it had been practised 
since the Reformation. A collection of prayers, prefixed to 
the psalms in metre, usually called John Knox's liturgy, had 
been long in use. It was originally meant as a help to weak 
ministers, at a period when it was difficult to find well-quali- 
fied persons to supply the pulpits; and the prayers in this 
book were still used in the churches by the readet s, who 
Mere employed to read the Scriptures to the people before 
the ministers began the proper service of the day, and in 
some places on the morning and evening of every week-day. 
In the pretended Assembly of 1616, held at Aberdeen, it was 
ordained that a new liturgy, or book of common-prayer, 
should be formed for the use of the Church of Scotland; and 
the task of preparing it is said to have fallen on Cowper, 
bishop of Galloway. 1 But this project was not carried into 
effect — probably from their knowledge of the aversion of the 
Scots to fixed forms of prayer. The people did not question 
the lawfulness of set forms, but their necessity; they had been 
long habituated to hear them read, though not by their min- 
isters; and they considered it altogether at variance with 
Scripture, with the practice of antiquity, and with the very 

1 Booke of Universal Kirke, p. 595, Pet. Ed.; Scott's MSS., in Adv. Lib. 


nature of prayer, that the Church should be shackled and 
bound to an invariable formulary in this part of divine wor- 
ship. To the English liturgy they objected, not only on the 
ground that it restricted the minister to a prescribed form of 
words, but because it recognised a number of superstitious 
practices which the Scripture condemned, and which not 
only the Puritans, but many of the best and most enlightened 
members of the Church of England had long desired to see 
reformed. But the English liturgy, undesired as it was, 
would not have excited such a sensation as that which Laud 
attempted to force on the people of Scotland. For our 
especial benefit, it pleased his grace of Canterbury to draw 
up a new service-book of his own, much more nearly resem- 
bling the popish breviary; and in various points, particularly 
in the communion-service, borrowing the very words of the 
mass-book. 1 

To prepare the way for the introduction of this Anglo- 
popish service, as it was called, a book of canons was sent 
down for the regulation of the clergy; next came orders for 
every minister to procure two copies of Laud's liturgy, for the 
use of his church, on pain of deprivation — even before the 
book had been seen by any of them; and lastly, when the 
minds of the whole nation had been wrought up to a state 
of alarm by reports of a design to reintroduce the popish 
worship, down came the long-expected service-book, with 
orders from the king and council that it should be read in 
all the churches. 

Brief as was the space during which the ministers were 
permitted to examine the contents of this book, they had 
time sufficient to discover its character, and warn the people 
against it. The pulpits resounded with accusations against its 
orthodoxy, and denunciations of the tyranny of the bishops 
in imposing it on the once free reformed Church of Scotland. 
In the midst of these preparations arrived the fatal day ap- 
pointed for commencing the use of the service-book — the 
23d of July, 1637. 

On the morning of this Sabbath, one Henderson, a reader 
in the High Church of St. Giles, and a great favourite with 

1 "The Booke of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, 
and other parts of Divine Service, for the use of the Church of Scotland. 
Edinburgh, 1637." 

1 637.] LAUDS LITURGY. 141 

the people, read the usual prayers about eight o'clock; and 
when he had ended, he said, with tears in his eyes, "Adieu, 
good people, for I think this is the last time of my reading 
prayers in this place." The Dean of Edinburgh was appoin- 
ted to perform the service after the form of the obnoxious 
liturgy. An immense crowd had assembled. At the stated 
hour the dean was seen issuing from the vestry, clad in his 
surplice, and he passed through the crowd to the reading 
desk, the people gazing as they would at a show. No sooner, 
however, had he begun to read, than his voice was drowned 
in a tumultuous clamour, raised chiefly by persons of the 
lower classes, denouncing the innovation. An old woman 
named Janet Geddes, who kept a green-stall in the High- 
street, no longer able to conceal her indignation, cried out, 
"Villain, dost thou say mass at my lug!" and with these 
words, launched at the dean's head the stool on which she 
had been sitting. Others followed her example, and the 
confusion became universal. The service was interrupted, 
and the women, whose zeal on this occasion was most con- 
spicuous, rushed to the desk in wild disorder. The dean 
threw off his surplice and fled, to escape being torn in pieces. 
The Bishop of Edinburgh then ascended the pulpit, and 
endeavoured to allay the ferment; but his address only 
inflamed them the more. He was answered by a volley of 
sticks, stones, and other missiles, with cries of "A pope! a 
pope! — antichrist! — pull him down! — stone him!" and on 
returning in his coach, had he not been protected by the 
magistrates, he might have fallen a victim to the fury of the 
mob — a martyr to Laud's liturgy! 1 

1 In an old manuscript lately printed {Appendix to Rothes Relation, p. 
193, Ban. edit.) there is a satirical account of this scene, differing in a few 
particulars from that given above, and adding several others. According 
to this account, the epithets bestowed on the clerical functionaries by the 
crowd were much more distinguished for their strength than their delicacy. 
"The dean, Mr. James Hanna, was mightily upbraided. Some cried, 'Ill- 
hanged thief ! if at that time when thou wentest to court thou hadst been 
weel hanged, thou hadst not been here to be a pest to God's church this 
day.' A certain woman cried, ' Fy, if I could get the thropple out of him!' 
One did cast a stool at him, intending to have given him a ticket of remem- 
brance; but jouking (jerking down his head) became his safeguard at that 
time." There is little doubt that one folding stool was made use of for the 
purpose here expressed; and if the missile employed was anything like what 
is commonly called "Jenny Geddes's stool," preserved in the Antiquarian 
Society's museum, it was well for the dean that he had learned iojouk. 


Nothing can be more ridiculous than the attempts made 
at the time by the prelatic clergy, and which have been 
revived of late by their advocates, to magnify this incidental 
tumult into a regularly organized conspiracy. The terror 
into which the bishops were thrown, and the disgrace they 
felt at being defeated by a handful of women, naturally led 
them to exaggerate the whole affair; and they may have 
really believed, perhaps, what some absurdly asserted, that 
the authors of the tumult were men disguised in women's 
clothes. We need not wonder at this, when we consider 
that even Baillie, a good Presbyterian, whom we shall fre- 
quently have occasion to quote, says, in his letters at this 
period, " I think our people are possessed with a bloody 
devil, far above anything that can be imagined." But Baillie 
soon found he was mistaken: at that time he had not made 
up his mind on the question, and indeed seems to have been 
incapable of it from pure bodily fear. "The Lord save my 
poor soul!" exclaims this good, but rather weak-minded man, 
" for as moderate as I have been, and resolving, in spite of 
the devil and the world, by God's grace so to remain to 
death — for as well as I have been beloved hitherto by all 
who has known me, yet I think I may be killed, and my house 
burnt upon my head!" 1 But indeed there is not the vestige 
of a proof that it was premeditated, or even foreseen, by any 
class of people; and none will assert it who have read the 
accounts transmitted by those who were on the spot, and 
who had no temptation to conceal the truth. 

This tumult, however, simple as it was in its commence- 
ment, proved the death-blow of Laud's liturgy. Though at 
first confined to the humbler orders, and the result, as we 
have seen, not of any premeditated scheme, but of an impulse 
given to long-suppressed feelings, the quarrel was soon taken 
up by the higher classes. The infatuated conduct of the 
prelates (the younger part of them especially) to enforce the 
obnoxious mandate of the court, roused the whole country 
to follow the example set by Edinburgh. Petitions and re- 
monstrances poured into the privy-council. New riots, in 
which the gentry began to participate, took place, and it was 
found absolutely necessary to suspend the use of the liturgy. 
In Glasgow, similar indignation was excited by an attempt to 
1 Baillie's Letters and Journals (Bannatyne edit., 4to.) i. 24. 


impose this book; and there, as in Edinburgh, the women 
seem to have borne the principal share. One Mr. William 
Annan, minister of Ayr, who preached in defence of the ser- 
vice-book, had well-nigh fallen a victim to their fury. During 
the day he was pursued with threats of vengeance; and on 
venturing out at night, he was beset by some hundreds of 
ladies, chiefly the wives of honest burgesses, who attacked 
him with "fists, staves, and peats, but no stones;" tore his 
coat, ruff, and hat to pieces, and after beating him soundly, 
allowed him to go home. His humiliation, however, was 
not yet complete; for next morning, on mounting his horse, 
the animal, startled by the mob which began to collect around 
him, unhappily fell and rolled over him "in very foule myre;" 
and the discomfited divine, covered with mud, made his 
escape out of Glasgow, amidst the derisive shouts of the 
populace. 1 

About this time the excitement in Edinburgh was so great 
that many noblemen and gentlemen, commissioners from 
various places, with their retainers, and great crowds of 
people from all quarters, came up to town, waiting with the 
utmost anxiety the king's answer to a supplication for the 
suppression of the service-book. Had that answer been con- 
ciliatory, had any concessions been made at this critical 
juncture, it is probable that Prelacy might have survived, 
and a civil war been prevented. But the fatal infatuation of 
Charles prevailed. A new proclamation arrived, enjoining 
strict obedience to the canons, and instant reception of the 
service-book, condemning all the proceedings of the suppli- 
cants, as they were called, and discharging all their public 
meetings, under pain of treason. The supplicants, apprised 
of this measure, which, had it been tamely submitted to, 
would, in all probability, have extinguished every spark of 
freedom in the country, resolved to proceed in a body to 
the Scottish privy-council, which was to meet at Stirling on 
the 20th of February, 1638, and present, in name of the Kirk 
and kingdom, a protest against the proclamation as soon as 
it was made. 

This was deemed the legal course for securing their liber- 
ties, and the manner in which they went about it shows 
their zeal and determination. The Earls of Traquair and 

1 Baillie's Letters, i. 21. 


Roxburgh, after in vain attempting to dissuade them from 
their purpose, resolved to steal a march on them, by secretly 
starting from Edinburgh at two o'clock on Monday morning, 
the day before the meeting of council, expecting to have the 
proclamation ratified and published ere the supplicants were 
aware of their departure. In this, however, they were disap- 
pointed. Traquair's servant having stepped into an ale- 
house before leaving Edinburgh, to fortify himself for the 
cold ride of a February morning by a glass of "Scotch two- 
penny," incautiously let out the secret of his journey to some 
of his boon companions, and among them was a servant of 
the Lord Lindsay, who immediately communicated the news 
to his master. Lindsay lost not a moment in sounding the 
alarm among his friends, and he himself, with the Earl of 
Home, mounting their horses at four o'clock the same morn- 
ing, overtook the two earls at the Torwood, passed them by 
taking a turn round the wood, and reached Stirling an hour 
before them. In course of time Traquair and Roxburgh 
rode leisurely up the streets of that ancient burgh, and pro- 
ceeded, with the aid of some other councillors, to pass the 
proclamation, when, to their mortification and astonishment, 
the two lords of the covenant appeared, and, in all due form 
of law, protested against it. 1 

On the news of this spirited protest reaching London, the 
court was greatly incensed, and none more so than Laud, 
who was supposed to have had the chief hand in urging the 
king to these extreme measures, and who on this occasion 
betrayed his wounded pride in a very ridiculous manner. 
On his way to the council-table, he was met by the celebrated 
Archie Armstrong, the king's fool, who said to him, "Wha's 
fule now? Doth not your grace hear the news from Striveling 
about the liturgy?" Laud was silly enough to complain of 
this jest as an insult; and it was ordained, by order of coun- 
cil, that "Archibald Armstrong, for certain scandalous words 
of a high nature spoken by him, against his grace the Lord 
Archbishop of Canterbury, should have his coat pulled over 
his head and be banished the court." Some one having met 
Archie, after the execution of this sentence, attired in black, 
asked him what had become of his fool's coat. "O," said 
he, "my Lord of Canterbury hath taken it from me because 
1 Rothes' Relation, p. 63; Baillie, i. 33; Guthrie's Memoirs, p. 33. 


either he or some of the Scotch bishops may have use of it 
for themselves; but he hath given me a black coat for it to 
cover my knavery withal." 1 

The same promptitude and decision in protesting against 
the proclamation was manifested at Edinburgh ; and at length 
the council, apprehensive of danger from such large masses 
of people collected in town, agreed that if they would dis- 
perse the crowd the commissioners might appoint some of 
their number to represent the rest, who should remain and 
attend to the public interests. To this the commissioners 
agreed, and erected four tables as they were called — one for 
the nobility, another for the barons, a third for the boroughs, 
and a fourth for the Church. But before separating to 
return to their homes, the commissioners, considering the 
critical state both of Church and nation, agreed to renew the 
national covenant, with a bond applicable to the present 
conjuncture, binding themselves "to adhere to and defend 
the true religion, and forbearing the practice of all innova- 
tions already introduced into the worship of God; and to 
labour by all means lawful to recover the purity and liberty 
of the gospel as it was professed and established before the 
aforesaid innovations." This covenant was sworn and sub- 
scribed, with much solemnity, in the Greyfriars' Church at 
Edinburgh, on ist of March, 1638. 

A fast was appointed. After sermon the covenant was 
read; upon which the Earl of Loudoun, whose manner was 
peculiarly impressive, made an address to the assembled mul- 
titude, dwelling on the importance of this bond of union in 
present circumstances, and exhorting all to zeal and persever- 
ance in the cause of the Lord. Thereafter Mr. Alexander 
Henderson, then minister at Leuchars, offered up an impas- 
sioned prayer for the divine blessing; when the noblemen 
present stepped forward to the table, subscribed the deed, 
and, with uplifted hands, swore to the observance of its duties. 
After them the gentry, the ministers, and thousands of every 
rank, subscribed and swore. The immense sheet of parch- 
ment was speedily filled, and numbers, for want of room, 
were obliged to sign only with their initials. The enthusiasm 
was universal; it seemed as if a new era had dawned on 
them; every face beamed with joy, and the city presented 

1 Rothes' Relation, App. p. 208; The Scots Scouts' Discoveries, 1639. 



one scene ot devout congratulation and rapture. "Behold," 
says a writer speaking of that time, "the nobility, the barons, 
the burgesses, the ministers, the commons of all sorts of 
Scotland — all in tears for their breach of covenant, and for 
their backsliding and defection from the Lord; and, at the 
same time, returning with great joy unto their God, by 
swearing cheerfully and willingly to be the Lord's. It may 
well be said of this day, Great was the day of Jezreel. It 
was a day wherein the arm of the Lord was revealed — a day 
wherein the princes of the people were assembled to swear 
fealty and allegiance to that great King whose name is the 
Lord of hosts." 1 

"To this much vilified bond," it has been well said, "every 
true Scotsman ought to look back with as much reverence as 
Englishmen do to their magna charta. It was what saved 
the country from absolute despotism, and to it we may trace 
back the origin of all the efforts made by the inhabitants of 
Britain in defence of their freedom during the succeeding 
reign of the Stuarts." 2 But it must be viewed in a still more 
sacred light. It was the "oath of God," sworn in his name, 
in agreement with his word, and in defence of his cause; and 
the effects bear a striking resemblance to those recorded in 
holy writ, as the native fruits of similar exercise in ancient 
Israel. The minds of the people were at once solemnized 
by the service, and cemented in defence of their religious 
privileges. They felt themselves bound to God, and to one 
another, not only by the common obligations of the divine 
law, which lie upon all men, independent of their own con- 
sent, but by the superadded obligation of a voluntary oath 

1 Wilson's Defence of Reformation Principles, p. 242. — All the Presby- 
terian writers of that time bear witness that the divine presence accompanied 
this solemn service in a remarkable manner, and that its happy influences 
were everywhere manifest. The general assembly of 1640, in their letter to 
the Swiss churches, say, that "when they began to descend and search 
deeper into their hearts, the remembrance of their violated covenant pierced 
and penetrated their consciences; wherefore, being led by serious repentance, 
they resolved to renew the covenant, with confession," &c. {Epistola, &c, 
subjoined to Historia Mot num.) And in another document they declare, 
that " the Lord from heaven did testify his acceptance of that covenant by 
the wonderful workings of his Spirit in the hearts both of pastors and people, 
to their great comfort and strengthening in every duty, above any measure 
that hath been heard of in this land." {Reasons against the re fide ring 0/ our 
Sworn and Subscribed Confession of Faith.) 

2 Aikman's Hist, of Scotland, iii. 445. 


— an oath sworn by the nation, and registered in heaven. 
They looked on themselves as embarked in a holy cause, 
in which it was an honour to suffer, and martyrdom to die. 
The prelates were thunderstruck at the event; and Spots- 
woode, the archbishop of St. Andrews, who had sagacity 
enough to foresee in it the doom of the whole prelatical fabric, 
exclaimed, in despair, "Now, all that we have been doing 
these thirty years bypast is at once thrown down !" * 

The state of parties in Scotland at this remarkable era 
was very singular, and in some respects unprecedented. It 
is customary with High Church historians to speak of the 
country as divided into two parties — the royal or prelatical, 
and the presbyterian; and they would even have us to be- 
lieve that the latter was a mere "faction," composed of 
rebellious persons, guided, or rather goaded on by fanatical 
leaders. This, however, is just a specimen of the defamatory 
style uniformly adopted by the enemies of the truth, when- 
ever the ministers of religion bestir themselves to vindicate 
the liberties of the Church, or obtain the reformation of her 
abuses. The real state of matters was precisely the reverse. 
The tw r o parties mentioned certainly existed in the country; 
but it is quite ridiculous to say that the nation was divided 
into them. The prelatical party may be said to have been 
composed of the bishops alone, with a few of their underlings 
among the clergy, whom they had intruded into the Church 
— a party so insignificant, in point of number, rank, wealth, 
or influence, that they may truly be called a faction — a 
faction opposed to the whole nation. 2 At the head of this 

1 Bishop Guthrie's Memoirs, p. 35. 

2 The misrepresentation referred to is only an echo of that circulated at 
the time by the deposed bishops who fled into England, and who gave out 
that "many, and some of the chiefest amongst the covenanters, were men 
of unquiet spirits and broken fortunes," &c. To this the noblemen and 
gentlemen replied: "It is known by all who are acquainted with this 
country, that almost the -whole kingdom standeth to the defence of this 
cause, and that the chiefest of the nobles, barons, and burgesses, are hon- 
oured in the places where they live for religion, wisdom, power, and wealth, 
answerable to the condition of this kingdom; that the meanest of the com- 
mons who have joined in this cause, are content of their mean estates with 
the enjoying of the gospel; and no less known, that our adversaries are not 
for number any considerable part of the kingdom, and that the chiefest (set- 
ting aside some few statesmen, and such as draw their breath from court) 
are known atheists, or professed Papists, drowned in debt, denounced his 
majesty's rebels for a long time past, are under caption of their creditors, 
and have already, in their imaginations, divided among them the lands of 


faction, however, Charles, unhappily for himself and the 
country, had now openly placed himself. It was long 
before his good subjects, in the excess of their loyalty, would 
believe that he could be the author of the harsh and arbitrary 
proclamations issued against them from the English court; 
they ascribed the whole to the machinations of Laud, and 
the misrepresentations of the Scottish bishops, who, pretend- 
ing to be frightened by the uproar about the liturgy, had fled 
to court, carrying to his majesty, and disseminating through 
England, the most false and exaggerated reports. There 
can be no doubt now, from unquestioned documents, that 
these prelates, by their infatuated counsels, were the princi- 
pal means of plunging the nation into a civil war; but their 
loyalty, it seems, taught them to transfer all the responsibil- 
ity, and consequently all the odium, of their measures, from 
their own heads to that of the monarch, on pretence of sup- 
porting the royal prerogative. To this rash policy, Charles, 
with an infatuation which seems to have been inherent in the 
Stuarts, was induced to yield; for he sent down a message 
informing his subjects in Scotland, to their grief and dismay, 
that the liturgy had been imposed by his own express orders, 
and that the measures of the bishops had his entire approba- 
tion; — and, as if this had not been enough, he gave the sanc- 
tion of his name to an infamous libel against the Scottish 
nation, drawn up by one Dr. Balcanqual,and filled with the most 
unfounded statements and injurious reflections, which was 
published under the title of "The King's large Declaration." 1 
Thus the whole was converted into a personal quarrel between 
Charles and his subjects; and the question came to be, 
whether the people of Scotland should submit, in matters of 
religion, to his arbitrary dictates, irrespective of parliament 

the supplicants, which they hoped to be possessed in by the power of Eng- 
land." {The Remonstrance of the Nobility, Barons, ike, Feb. 27, 1639, 
p. 14.) 

1 Baillie describes this declaration as "a number of silly fables invented 
for our disgrace," "heaping up a rabble of the falsest calumnies that ever 
was put into any one discourse that I had read, to show that we were the 
most desperate traitors that yet had lived, and mere hypocrites, who, in 
matters of religion, had never been wronged, but had only sought pretences 
of religion to cover our plots of rebellion." Exactly the view given of them 
by prelatical writers ever since, who, indeed, generally refer to this work 
of Balcanqual as their sole authority ! [Baillie s Lciiers, i. 140, 175, 2o3, 
Ban. edit.). 


or General Assembly, or at once assert their privileges as 
Christians and their rights as freemen? 

In opposition to the contemptible faction which we have 
described, the Scottish parliament, the most ancient and re- 
spectable of the nobility, barons, and gentlemen, with the 
mass of the common people, were decidedly Presbyterian. 
Nothing, indeed, is more remarkable, during the whole of 
this singular period, than the unanimity which prevailed on 
all the questions at issue between them and the court. With 
the single exception of Aberdeen, which was under the in- 
fluence of the Marquis of Huntly, and the Aberdeen doctors, 
who, owing to their distance from the immediate scene of 
action and lack of intercourse with their brethren, remained 
attached to the cause of Prelacy, the whole nation cordially 
joined in the cause of the covenant. No compulsion was 
used to procure subscriptions, for none was needed. Some 
individuals, indeed, among the clergy, who refused to sign, 
might be treated somewhat unceremoniously; but this was 
rather an expression of the popular dislike at the measures 
with which they were identified, than an attempt to force 
their consciences. Everything like personal violence was 
deprecated and repressed by the leaders of the covenant; 
and both Rothes and Baillie lament that their good cause 
should have been injured by any approach to such practices. 
So far from persons being compelled to sign the covenant, 
great care was taken to prevent improper or incompetent 
subscriptions. None were allowed to subscribe but such as 
had communicated in the Lord's supper. "Some men of no 
small note," says Henderson, "offered their subscriptions, 
and were refused, till time should prove that they joined 
from love to the cause, and not from the fear of man." 
"The matter was so holy," says the Earl of Rothes, "that they 
held it to be irreligious to use violent means for advancing such 
a work." A unanimity so singular can only be ascribed to 
a remarkable effusion of the Holy Spirit, the genuineness of 
which was attested by the general revival of practical religion 
that marked the whole progress of the work. "I was pre- 
sent," says Livingstone, "at Lanark and several other par- 
ishes, when, on Sabbath, after the forenoon's sermon, the 
covenant was read and sworn; and I may truly say, that in 
all my lifetime, excepting at the Kirk of Shotts, I never saw 


such motions from the Spirit of God. All the people gener- 
ally and most willingly concurred. I have seen more than 
a thousand persons all at once lifting up their hands, and the 
tears falling down from their eyes; so that through the whole 
land, excepting the professed Papists, and some few who ad- 
hered to the prelates, people universally entered into the cov- 
enant of God." Nay, such was the enthusiasm that some 
subscribed it with their blood, and others would not be pre- 
vented from signing, even in the presence of the prelatical 
ministers and their underlings, who, with oaths and impre- 
cations, and in some cases with drawn swords, attempted to 
intimidate them from coming forward. 1 

If we search for the secondary causes of such an excite- 
ment among a people proverbially sober and intelligent, the 
whole might be traced to three main sources of dissatisfaction 
and alarm — Arminianism, Popery, and despotism. It would 
be easy to enlarge on each of these topics, showing the close 
connection in which they then stood to each other, and the 
ample grounds our forefathers had for apprehension. To 
ignorance of these causes, or to a wilful suppression, we may 
trace all the misapprehension which still exists, in so many 
quarters, regarding the struggles of our reforming ancestors 
at this period. Suffice it here to say, that Arminianism, as 
then maintained in England, was fitted, if not intended, to 
pave the way for the introduction of Popery; that Laud and 
his divines were radically popish ; and that Popery was then, 
as it has ever been in theory and practice, whatever it may 
be in profession, decidedly favourable to absolute despotism 
in the state. 2 The doctrine advocated by these divines, and 

1 Baillie's Letters ; Rothes' Relation ; Livingstone's Life. — It may be 
proper to state that the counties north of Aberdeen, particularly Caithness, 
Sutherland, Ross, and Inverness, cordially entered into the covenant. " It 
was professed by all that it was the joyfullest day that ever they saw, or ever 
was seen in the north; and it was remarked as a special mark of God's 
goodness towards these parts, that so many different clans and names, 
among whom was nothing before but hostility and blood, were met together 
in one place for such a good cause, and in so peaceable a manner, as that 
nothing was to be seen and heard but mutual embracements, with hearty 
praise to God for so happy a union." [Rothes' Relation, p. 106.) At Inver- 
ness, the town-drummer having been ordered to invite the inhabitants to 
sign the covenant, added to the proclamation, of his own accord, something 
about pains and penalties, which, Rothes says, " gave occasion to our adver- 
saries to calumniate our proceedings." [lb. p. 107.) 

2 Hist. Essay on the Loyalty of Presbyterians, p. 188; Bennet's Memo- 
rial of the Reformation, pp. 162-165; Rush worth, part ii. p. 76. 


by the doctors of Aberdeen, was, that the king was supreme 
judge in all causes, ecclesiastical as well as civil ; and that, 
though all the subjects should be massacred in one day, or 
ordered to submit to the Turkish religion, under penalty of 
being spoiled of liberty, goods, and life, they had no alternative 
but to submit to his will. 1 This shows what sort of people 
our ancestors had to deal with. The question was not about 
obedience to law, but submission to an arbitrary prince, who 
held that his will was above all law; and who was supported 
by a clergy defending him in these extravagant claims, by 
popish powers urging him to exercise them, and by a large 
army in England levied to enforce them. In such circum- 
stances, had Scotland yielded, she would have entailed on 
herself indelible disgrace. She did not yield; and the conse- 
quence was a struggle, which, commencing in this country, 
was soon transferred to England, and issued in a revolution 
that shook the throne, and involved the three kingdoms in a 
protracted civil war. During this contest, whatever may have 
been the designs of parties in England, the Scots distinguished 
themselves as much for true loyalty to their king as for fidelity 
to the cause of God, and patriotic devotion to their native 

It is usually seen, that when Providence has some great 
work to accomplish in the Church, instruments are raised up 
admirably fitted for the part they are designed to perform. 
At this juncture it is pleasing to find that, notwithstanding the 
oppression under which the Church had laboured for thirty 
years, individuals arose, out of the ranks of the nobility, the 
barons, and the ministry, who, in point of talents, piety, and 
natural dispositions, seem to have been expressly formed for 
the struggle. Among these, the first place is due to Alexander 
Henderson, then minister of Leuchars in Fife, and who, for 
personal worth, as well as his prominent share in the transac- 
tions of this period, deserves particular notice. In the early 
part of his life, Mr. Henderson had been, to say the least, 
neutral in the contest between Presbytery and Episcopacy; 
there is even reason to think he was a defender of the corrup- 
tions introduced by the bishops. As a proof of this, he 
accepted a presentation from Archbishop Gladstanes to the 

1 Baillie's Letters, i. 89 ; Duplyes of the Ministers and Professors of 
Divinitie in Aberdeen. 1638. 


parish of Leuchars; and such was the repugnance of the people 
there to his induction, that, on the day of ordination, they 
barricaded the church doors, so that the ministers, with Hen- 
derson, were obliged to effect their entrance by the window. 
Some time after, having heard that Robert Bruce was to 
preach at a communion in the neighbourhood, Henderson, 
attracted by curiosity, went secretly to hear him, and placed 
himself in a dark corner of the church, where he might remain 
most concealed. Bruce came into the pulpit, and after a pause, 
according to his usual manner, which fixed Henderson's 
attention, he read with his wonted dignity and deliberation, 
these words as his text: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He 
that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth 
up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." These 
words, so literally applicable to the manner in which he had 
entered upon his ministry, went "like drawn swords" to his 
inmost soul. He who wished to conceal himself from the 
eyes of men, felt that he was naked and opened before the 
eyes of Him with whom we have to do. In short, the dis- 
course of this powerful preacher was, by the divine blessing, 
the means of Henderson's conversion; and ever after he 
retained a great affection for Bruce, whom he called his 
spiritual father. 

After this wonderful change, which went much deeper than 
a conversion to Presbyterianism, Henderson continued to 
discharge the duties of his retired parish in a manner much 
more conducive to the edification of his people, and laid up 
those stores of learning for which he afterwards found so 
much use. He became a decided opponent of the prelatical 
measures; and when matters came to extremity, his talents 
as a public speaker, his piety and learning, his gentlemanly 
and ingratiating manners, and his profound sagacity in busi- 
ness, pointed him out to all his brethren as the fittest person 
for taking the lead in their affairs. 1 

Among the nobility who entered with heart and soul into 
the cause of the covenant, the most distinguished were the 
Earls of Loudoun and Rothes. John Campbell, earl of 
Loudoun, was a nobleman whose patriotism, prudence, elo- 
quence, and fortitude, justly entitle him to be regarded as the 

1 Life of Alex. Henderson in Dr. M'Crie's Miscel. Writings. Part i. 
Life of A. Henderson, by Rev. Dr. Aiton, minister of Dolphington. 

1638.] LOUDOUN AND ROTHES. 1 53 

chief assertor both of the civil and religions rights of his 
country. From his youth, he attached himself to the Presby- 
terian interest, which he saw was identified with the cause 
of civil liberty. On the commencement of the contentions 
in 1638, he took an active share in opposing the despotic 
measures of the court; and on one occasion roundly told the 
king's commissioner, in language which was soon re-echoed in 
tones of thunder from every part of the kingdom, "That they 
knew no other bands between a king and his subjects but 
those of religion and the laws. If these are broken," he said, 
"men's lives are not dear to them: boasted (threatened) we 
shall not be; such fears are past with us." Loudoun may be 
called the Brutus of Scotland during this epoch of her history; 
firm as a rock, nobly upright, sternly conscientious. The 
Earl of Rothes, with the same high principles, was a man of a 
different stamp. Lively and facetious, polite in his address, 
and indefatigably active in all his movements, this young 
nobleman, who died at the age of forty-one, was at the head 
of all the enterprises of the covenanters, and rendered essen- 
tial service to the cause. 1 

In the month of June, after the swearing of the covenant 
at Edinburgh, the king sent down, as his commissioner to 
Scotland, the Marquis of Hamilton, a nobleman of insinu- 
ating manners, chiefly with the view of conciliating the Scots, 
and inducing them, if possible, to renounce that oath. The 
covenanters had by this time become very suspicious of the 
designs of Charles, for which they had too good reason; for 
from a correspondence between the king and Hamilton, 
afterwards discovered, it was found that Charles was at this 
time making preparations for an invasion of Scotland. After 
describing these, he says to Hamilton, "Thus you may see 
that I intend not to yield to the demands of these traitors 

1 In 1641, Rothes being in London shortly before his death, came into 
high favour at court; and from some expression in Baillie's letters, it has 
been surmised, very unreasonably and uncharitably, that had he lived much 
longer, he would have changed sides and become an apostate. There is not 
a word spoken by Baillie that can be construed into suck a suspicion, which 
seems, indeed, to rest on no better foundation than the conjecture of the 
strongly biassed mind of Clarendon. Among the other noblemen who 
engaged at this time in the cause of the covenant, may be mentioned, Earls 
Eglinton, Montrose, Cassils, Home, Lothian, Wemyss, Dalhousie ; and 
Lords Lindsay, Yester, Sinclair, Boyd, Fleming, Elcho, Carnegy, Balmerino, 
Cranston, Cowper, Johnston, Forester, Melville, &c. &c. 


the Covenanters. And as concerning the explanation of 
their damnable covenant, I will only say, that so long as this 
covenant is in force, whether it be with or without explana- 
tion, I have no more power of Scotland than as a duke of 
Venice, which I will rather die than suffer." 1 On his arrival 
in Scotland, however, Hamilton soon found that he had to deal 
with a people who were determined to "die rather than suf- 
fer" such an infringement of their rights, and who had now 
adventured too far to retrace their steps either with safety or 
a good conscience. No sooner, therefore, did he give a dis- 
tant hint of his instructions, than the Covenanters declared, 
that "there was not a man joined but would rather quit his 
life than his part in that covenant." 2 Alarmed at the arrival 
of some military stores at Leith, they blockaded the castle, 
and placed armed guards at the city gates; and it required 
all the artifice of the commissioner to allay the storm which 
he had injudiciously excited. 

On the 9th of June, Hamilton, who had been residing at 
Dalkeith, entered Edinburgh with great pomp, and it was 
arranged that the manner of his reception should present a 
demonstration of the power and zeal of the Covenanters. 
For this purpose the circuitous road by Musselburgh, along 
the beach of the sea, was selected. The nobles, to the num- 
ber of thirty, and all others who had horses, rode to the end 
of the long sands at Musselburgh, to accompany his grace to 
the palace. The people, to the number of sixty thousand, 
were ranged, under the directions of Sir George Cuningham, 
in ranks along the sea-side, extending to several miles. At 
the eastern extremity of Leith' links, on the side of a rising 
ground, stood about seven hundred ministers, all in their 
cloaks — an exhibition of their numbers and unity in the cause. 
While riding slowly along through this prodigious array, and 
hearing so many thousands beseeching him on all sides, with 
tears, that he would advise the king to deliver them from the 
bishops and their books, and restore to them their beloved 
ministers, the marquis was deeply affected, and protested, 
that had the king been present to witness the scene, he would 
never think of forcing his obnoxious measures on such a 

1 Burnet's Memoirs of the Duke of Hamilton, p. 60; Peterkin's Records 
of the Kirke (Introduct.), p. 14- 2 Rothes' Relation, p. 151. 


It is needless to dwell on the temporizing measures by which 
Hamilton endeavoured to bring over the Covenanters. One 
of his plans deserves notice, as showing the unprincipled 
character of the means resorted to by the king. With the 
view of counteracting the covenant as sworn in the previous 
March, and sowing dissension among the Covenanters, he 
ordered Hamilton to subscribe, in his name, the National 
Covenant, as sworn in 1580, with a general bond for the 
maintenance of "the religion now presently professed," and 
to require all his subjects in Scotland to follow his example. 
The design of this manoeuvre was very obvious. In the cov- 
enant, as sworn in 1580, no particular mention was made of 
Prelacy, though there can be no doubt it was implicitly ab- 
jured by that covenant; and under the ambiguous phrase, 
"the religion presently professed," it was clearly intended to 
screen Prelacy, and involve those who had renewed the cov- 
enant in the alternative of either virtually renouncing their 
oath against Prelacy, or incurring the charge of disobedience. 
When, therefore, the king's proclamation appeared, on the 
2 2d of September, enjoining the swearing of "the king's 
covenant," as it was called, the Covenanters, with great rea- 
son, protested against the stratagem. They maintained that, 
as that covenant was understood and explained, they could 
not swear it, having already subscribed it with an express 
clause renouncing Prelacy and the innovations which had 
accompanied it. 1 "If we should now enter upon this new 
subscription," said they, "we should think ourselves guilty 
of mocking God, and taking his name in vain j for the tears 
that began to be poured forth at the solemnizing of the cov- 
enant are not yet dried up and wiped away, and the joyful 
noise which then began to sound forth hath not yet ceased. 
As we are not to multiply miracles on God's part, so ought 
we not to multiply solemn oaths and covenants on our part, 
and thus to play with oaths as children do with their toys, 
without necessity." And they concluded by demanding a free 
General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in which, without 
limitations prejudging the question, the prelates and all their 
innovations might be subjected to a fair and impartial trial. 2 

1 Reasons against Rendering our Subscribed Covenant ; Baillie's Letters, 
103-119; Rothes' Relation, p. 122. 
5 Protestation of the Noblemen, Barons, Gentlemen, &c, subscribers of 



All the manoeuvres of Charles and his bishops to outwit, 
intimidate, divide, or gain over the Covenanters, having thus 
signally failed, the king found himself under the necessity of 
complying with the wishes of the people, and summoning "a 
free General Assembly," which was indicted to meet at Glas- 
gow, on Wednesday, November 21, 1638; and the Marquis 
of Hamilton was appointed his majesty's commissioner. 
This Assembly was appointed to inquire into the evils that 
distressed the country, and to provide suitable remedies; and 
the bishops having been generally accused as the authors of 
these disturbances, they were subjected, by his majesty's 
proclamation, to the censure of the Assembly. 1 

This famous Assembly met at Glasgow on the day appointed. 
A more noble, grave, and competent body of men never 
perhaps convened to deliberate on the affairs of the Church. 
It consisted of 140 ministers, freely chosen by their different 
presbyteries, with 98 ruling elders, of whom 17 were noble- 
men of the highest rank, 9 were knights, 25 were landed 
proprietors, and 47 were burgesses of great respectability, 
capable of representing their respective communities in 
parliament. Some of the noblemen and gentlemen, hearing 
that an attempt would be made by the Marquis of Hamilton, 
the king's commissioner, to overawe the Assembly by a large 
retinue of followers, came accompanied by their usual retainers 
in arms. The Assembly was conducted throughout with the 
utmost gravity and decorum, although honest Baillie makes 
grievous complaints of the manner in which they were incom- 
moded and jostled by the crowd, who were very naturally 
anxious to witness their proceedings; and he gravely lectures 
the Scottish people in general for not taking a lesson on 
"modesty and manners" in church, "from Canterbury, yea, 
from the pope, yea, from the Turks or Pagans." "We are 
here so far the other way," says he, "that our rascals, without 
shame, in great numbers, make such din and clamour in the 
house of the true God, that if they minted to use the like 

the Confession of Faith and Covenant, lately renewed within the kingdom 
of Scotland, made at the Mercate Cross of Edinburgh the 22d of September, 
immediately after the reading of the proclamation, dated September 9, 1638, 
pp. 12-23. 

1 Reason for a General Assemblie, 1638, p. 5. See the royal proclamation, 
indicting a free General Assembly at Glasgow, Records of the Kirke of Scot- 
land, p. 81. 


behaviour in my chamber, I would not be content till they 
were down the stairs." 
• The order and dignity which characterized the proceedings 
of the Assembly itself, meeting as it did in a period of such 
excitement, were mainly owing to the consummate tact, firm- 
ness, and address of its moderator, Alexander Henderson. 
For the exercise of these qualities he found abundant occa- 
sion in the course of the seven days during which the 
commissioner kept protesting and disputing against their 
constitution. The king had called a "free General Assembly;" 
but it soon appeared that he had never any intention of 
allowing it to meet. His secret correspondence with the 
commissioner, now published to the world, displays the 
duplicity of his character in the most extraordinary light. 1 
He exhorts Hamilton to use all his endeavours to divide the 
Assembly, by sowing the seeds of jealousy between the laics 
and the clergy; if this failed, he was to protest against all 
their proceedings, and on no account to allow them to pro- 
ceed to the censure of the bishops. The bishops, who had 
been subjected by the king's proclamation to the censure of 
the Assembly, instead of appearing at the summons, sent in a 
declinature, in which, with ridiculous effrontery, they refused 
to acknowledge its authority, chiefly on the ground that the 
moderator was not a bishop, and because the meeting was 
partly composed of laymen, as they were pleased to call the 
ordained elders of the church; — thus setting themselves up 
as judges of a court before which they were cited as criminals, 
and presuming, in their own persons, to settle the grand point 
at issue, relating to the government of the Church, which was 
to come before the Assembly. 

The first question, therefore, came to be, Whether the 
Assembly found themselves competent judges of the bishops? 
On this question being put by the moderator the commis- 
sioner, after a long speech, in which he extolled his majesty's 
grace and condescension, presented to them a proclamation 
in the king's name discharging the service-book, the articles 
of Perth, and the high commission, and declaring that the 
bishops should be answerable from time to time to the General 
Assembly. The obvious design of this was to quash all 

1 See Records of the Kirke of Scotland, by Alex. Peterkin ; Part ii. Bur- 
net's Memoirs of Hamilton, pp. 82-93. 


further proceedings against the bishops, whom Hamilton 
persisted in styling the "lords of the clergy" — to divide the 
Assembly — and, at the same time, by apparently granting all 
the popular demands, to throw on the members, should they 
continue their sittings, the odium of unreasonable opposition 
to "a pious and gracious prince," who had done so much for 
the people. As to subjecting the prelates to the censure of 
the Assembly, it was sufficiently clear, from their declinature, 
that nothing was further from their intentions, or more 
unlikely to happen. 

In these circumstances it required more than ordinary 
prudence in the moderator to act a part at once respectful to 
royalty and true to the interests of the Church. Henderson 
nobly discharged the task. " It well becometh us," he said 
in reply, " with all thankfulness to receive so ample a testi- 
mony of his majesty's goodness, and not to disesteem the 
smallest crumbs of comfort that fall to us of his majesty's 
liberality. With our hearts do we acknowledge before God, 
and with our mouth do we desire to testify to the world, 
how far we think ourselves obliged to our dread sovereign ; 
wishing that the secret thought of our hearts and the way 
wherein we have walked this time past were made manifest. 
It hath been the glory of the reformed churches, and we 
account it our glory after a special manner, to give unto 
kings and Christian magistrates what belongs unto their 
place ; and as we know the fifth command of the law to be 
a precept of the second table, so do we acknowledge it to 
be the first of that kind, and that next to piety towards God, 
we are obliged to loyalty and obedience to our king. It 
has pleased his majesty to descend so far to his subjects' 
humble petitions, for which we render to his majesty most 
hearty thanks — offering, therefore, to spend our lives in his 
service. And we would do with him as the Jews did with 
Alexander the Great. When he came to Jerusalem he de- 
sired that his picture might be placed in the temple. This 
they refused to grant unto him, it being unlawful so to pol- 
lute the house of the Lord; but they granted to him one 
thing less blamable, and far more convenient for the pro- 
mulgation of his honour — to wit, that they should begin the 
calculation of their years from the time that he came to 
Jerusalem, and likewise that they should call all their male 


first-born by the name of Alexander : which thing he accepted. 
So, whatsoever is ours we shall render to his majesty, even 
our lives, lands, liberties, and all; but for that which is 
God's, and the liberties of his house, we do think, neither 
will his majesty's piety suffer him to crave, neither may we 
grant them, although he should crave it." 1 

On hearing this noble reply the commissioner said, " Sir, 
ye have spoken as a good Christian and a dutiful subject." 
The "dutiful subject" had spoken; it remained for the 
" good Christian " to act. Henderson repeated the ques- 
tion for the third time — " I now ask if this Assembly find 
themselves competent judges of the prelates?" "If you 
proceed to the censure of their persons and offices," said 
Hamilton, "I must remove myself." "A thousand times I 
wish the contrary from the bottom of my heart," replied the 
moderator; "and I entreat your grace to continue to favour 
us with your presence, without obstructing the work and 
freedom of the Assembly." The Earl of Rothes seconded 
this request, using various arguments to prevail on the com- 
missioner to remain, and even trying to coax him into good 
humour, but without effect. Hamilton began to shed tears, 
lamenting that such a weighty burden should have been laid 
on such a weak man, and acted his part so well as to draw 
tears from many. This scene continued for some time, 
when, perceiving that they were determined to proceed, he 
rose up, and after repeating his protestations, he, in the name 
of the king, as head of the Church, dissolved the Assembly, 
and discharged their further proceedings. 

There are critical periods in the Church, when the vital 
principles on which it is founded are at stake, and when to 
yield would entail, not only disgrace on the individuals most 
concerned, but ruin on the cause in which they are embarked. 
And such was the present. The Assembly had indeed been 
convened by the king's authority, but they were not bound 
to dismiss at his bidding. Neither the laws of the land, nor 
the constitution of the Church, as ratified by these laws, 
allowed any such power to the sovereign. The covenant 
had already been pronounced by the lord-advocate and 

1 This account of the Glasgow Assembly is taken from a MS. Journal of 
the Assembly in my possession, compared with another in the possession of 
David Laing, Esq. 


other legal officers to be perfectly agreeable to law, and it 
was in pursuance of that engagement that the Assembly had 
now met, though, for the sake of good order, they had re- 
quested the sanction of royalty. And none can accuse them 
of rebellion in refusing to obey the command of the com- 
missioner, except those who hold that the power of the king 
is supreme in ecclesiastical matters, and are prepared to re- 
enact the despotism which compelled our fathers to assume 
the attitude of resistance. Had the Assembly broke up in 
obedience to this unconstitutional mandate, it would have 
amounted to a virtual acknowledgment of the king's claim 
to be head of the Church, and to a denial of the headship 
of Christ. Besides, they would have been guilty of basely 
betraying the liberties of the Church, when these were placed 
in manifest peril, and when they had a fair opportunity of 
asserting them. Our fathers were men of another spirit. 
As Christians, they chose " to obey God rather than men," 
"not fearing the wrath of the king." As Presbyterians, they 
felt themselves called upon to contend for the distinguishing 
glory of Presbytery — the independence of the Church. As 
freemen, they claimed the protection of law, in opposition to 
the mandates of the sovereign. As an Established Church, 
they stood on the vantage-ground of having their spiritual 
privileges recognized and secured by national constitution; 
and as Covenanters, they had pledged themselves to main- 
tain and defend these privileges at all hazards. 

While the commissioner, therefore, was in the act of re- 
tiring, a protestation, which had been prepared that morning 
in anticipation of such an event, was presented by Rothes, 
and read by the clerk, in which, for reasons given at length, 
they declare, " In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the 


sciousness of our duty to God and his truth, the king and 
his honour, this kingdom and her peace, this Assembly and 
her freedom, and the safety of ourselves and our posterity, 
in our persons and estates, we profess with sorrowful and 
heavy but loyal hearts, we ca?inot dissolve this Assembly? 
They likewise protested, that "if any stir should arise by 
impeding of their lawful meetings, the cause should not be 
imputed to them, who did ardently desire the commissioner's 
abode, but to the prelates, who had declined them, being 


conscious of their guiltiness." This protest having been 
read, the moderator delivered a cheering address, in which, 
with admirable dexterity, he converted the departure of the 
commissioner into an encouragement for them to remain. 
" All who are present know," he said, " the reasons of the 
meeting of this Assembly; and albeit we have acknowledged 
the power of Christian kings for convening of assemblies, 
yet that may not derogate from Christ's right; for he hath 
given divine warrants to convocate assemblies, whether 
magistrates consent or not. Therefore, seeing we perceive 
his grace, my lord commissioner, to be so zealous of his 
royal master's commands, have we not also good reason to 
be zealous toward our Lord, and to maintain the liberties 
and privileges of his kingdom?" This, with similar exhorta- 
tions from other members, made such an impression, that 
with the exception of one or two who slunk away, they all 
remained at their post. Lights were ordered to be brought 
in, and the question being put, " If they would abide the 
whole time of the Assembly and adhere to the protestation?" 
the whole Assembly rose, and, as one man, decided in the 
affirmative. Lest, in the confusion of so many voices, any 
dissenting vote should have been unheard, the roll was 
called, and one by one they declared their resolution to 
remain till the business of the Assembly was finished. 

Before the roll was called an incident occurred which 
greatly encouraged the Assembly. A young nobleman, Lord 
Erskine, son of the Earl of Mar, who had formerly refused 
to sign the covenant, stepped forward to the table, and 
begged the audience of the Assembly. In a low tone, but 
with great earnestness, and an utterance almost choked with 
tears, he said, " I request you, for the Lord's cause, right 
honourable and worthy members of this Assembly, that ye 
would receive me into your number; for I have remained 
too long obstinate to your wholesome admonitions, being 
moved and stirred up by my own private ends rather than 
any checks of conscience, which ends I cease to reckon 
before you; but I am ashamed of them, and that I should 
have dallied so long with God. Therefore I request you, 
for Christ Jesus' sake, that ye would receive me into your 
number, and suffer me to subscribe our covenant." "Which 
words," says the record from which I quote them, " because 


he spake them with a low voice, the moderator rehearsed 
to the Assembly, professing he could scarce utter them for 
tears, so that all almost who did hear him, through joy, were 
constrained to weep." " We all embraced him gladly," says 
Baillie, "and admired the timeousness of God's comforts." 
This was followed by another gratifying occurrence. The 
Earl of Argyll, who had hitherto appeared neutral, though 
he warmly sympathized with the Covenanters, and had re- 
tired with the commissioner in hope of adjusting the quarrel, 
returned on the following day; and though not a member 
of the court, he cheerfully consented, at the request of the 
moderator, to remain and countenance their proceedings. 
The accession of such a nobleman, who was known to stand 
high in the royal favour, tended greatly to encourage the 
Assembly; and his example was followed by many others of 
the king's counsellors. While Henderson, however, con- 
gratulated them on this "human encouragement," he took 
care to guard his brethren against placing too much reliance 
on it. " Though we had not a single nobleman to assist us," 
said he, " our cause were not the worse nor the weaker." 

The first step taken by the Assembly was to nullify the 
six pretended Assemblies which had been held since the 
accession of James to the English throne, including the 
Assemblies from 1606 to 16 18. These, for various reasons 
which even Hume allows to be "pretty reasonable," were 
declared to have been " unfree, unlawful, and null Assem- 
blies." They next proceeded to the censure of the prelates, 
fourteen in number, who were charged with a great variety 
of moral as well as ecclesiastical delinquencies. Of these, 
two archbishops and six bishops were excommunicated, four 
deposed, and two suspended. The task of publicly pro- 
nouncing these sentences devolved on the moderator; and 
on the following day, before an immense auditory, Henderson 
discharged his office in the gravest and most impressive 
manner. After sermon on Psalm ex. 1 : " The Lord said 
unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand until I make thine 
enemies thy footstool," he pronounced on the degraded pre- 
lates, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the awful sen- 
tence of deposition and excommunication. Never were the 
religious feelings of the people of Scotland wound up to 
such a pitch of intensity as on this remarkable occasion. 


To see the Church of Scotland again rising in her might, 
after a slumber of more than thirty years, and with her first 
awakened effort prostrating those prelates who had so long 
lorded over her with more than clerical pride and power, 
appeared to them as a dream. A sensation of mingled awe 
and wonder pervaded the Assembly; and as the more solemn 
part of the service approached, the interest became so in- 
tense, that even the reporters who took notes of the pro- 
ceedings became too much agitated to continue their task. 
It is only necessary to add, that this Assembly condemned 
the service-book, the canons, and the high commission; that 
they renounced the five articles of Perth; and that, after 
declaring Prelacy to have been abjured by the National Cove- 
nant, and to be contrary to the principles of the Church of 
Scotland, 1 they, in the name of that Church, and as a church 
of Christ, unanimously voted its removal, and restored 
Presbyterian government to all its former integrity. 

The Assembly having now sat from the 21st of November 
to the 20th of December, and held no less than twenty-six 
sessions, Henderson addressed them in an eloquent con- 
cluding speech. After apologizing for his own weakness in 
the part he had taken in the proceedings, and compliment- 
ing the ministers on the diligence and fidelity they had dis- 
played, he thus proceeded: — 

" And now we are quit of the service-book, which was a 
book of slavery and service indeed; the book of canons, 
which tied us in spiritual bondage; the book of ordination, 
which was a yoke put upon the necks of faithful ministers; 
and the high commission, which was a guard to keep us all 
under that slavery. All these evils God has rid us of, and 
likewise of the civil places of kirkmen, which was the splen- 
dour of all these evils; and the Lord has led captivity cap- 
tive, and made lords slaves. What should we do less than 

1 In other words, the Assembly decided, upon various grounds, that Pre- 
lacy was abjured in the National Covenant of 1580, and was included under 
the phrase of "the pope's wicked hierarchy." While the Assembly was still 
sitting the Marquis of Hamilton issued a " Profession and Declaration," in 
which he endeavoured to prove that Episcopal government was not abjured 
by that covenant. Shortly after there appeared "An Answer to the Pro- 
fession and Declaration made by James, Marquis of Hamilton, his Majesty's 
High Commissioner," in which his arguments were fully answered by the 
Covenanters. Hamilton's Explanation of the Covenant, and the Answer, 
are inserted in the Large Declaration, pp. 327-337, 


resolve, first, since the Lord has granted us liberty, to labour 
to be sensible of it, and take notice of it? For we are like 
to a man newly awakened out of a dream, or like a man 
that has lien long in the irons, who, after they are taken off 
and he redeemed, he feels not his liberty, but thinks the 
irons are on him still. So it is with us. We do not feel 
our liberty; therefore it were good for us to study to know 
the bounds of our liberty wherewith Christ hath set us free, 
and then again to labour earnestly that we be not more 
entangled with the yoke of bondage. 

k - Then, for these nobles, barons, burgesses, and others, 
who have attended here, this I may say confidently, and 
from the warrant of the word, 'Those that honour God, 
God will honour them.' Your lordships, and these worthy 
gentlemen, who have been honouring God, and giving testi- 
mony ample of your love to religion this time bygone 
(though I will not excuse your former backslidings), if ye 
will go on, the Lord shall protect you, bless you, honour 
you; and your faith shall be found, in the day of the revela- 
tion of Jesus Christ, unto praise, honour, and glory. And 
I must say one word of these nobles, whom Jesus Christ 
has nobilitated indeed, and declared sensibly to be worthy 
of that title of nobility: Ye know they were like the tops of 
the mountains that were first discovered in the deluge, 
which made the little valleys hope to be delivered from it 
also ; and so it came to pass. I remember reading, that in 
the eastern country where they worship the sun, a number 
being assembled early in the morning to that effect, all 
striving who should see the sun first, a servant turned his 
face to the west, and waited on. The rest thought him a 
foolish man, and yet he got the first sight of the sun shining 
on the tops of the western mountains. So, truly, he would 
have been thought a foolish man, a few years ago, that 
would have looked for such things of our nobility; yet the 
Sun of Righteousness has been pleased to shine first upon 
these mountains; and long, long may he shine upon them, 
for the comfort of the hills and refreshing of the valleys; 
and the blessing of God be upon them and their families, 
and we trust it shall be seen to the generations following. 

" Last, I must give a word of thanksgiving to this city, 
wherein we have had such comfortable residence, and to 


the principal magistrates of it, who have attended our meet- 
ing. The best recompense we can give them is to pray for 
the blessing of God upon them; and to give them a taste 
of our labour, by visiting their college, and any other thing 
that consists in our power; that so the kingdom of our Lord 
Jesus Christ may be established among them, and that the 
name of this city may from henceforth be, l Jehovah-shammak 
— The Lord is there.'" The 133d Psalm was then sung, 
beginning thus : 

" Behold, how good a thing it is. 
And how becoming well, 
Together such as brethren are 
In unity to dwell." 

The apostolical blessing was pronounced, and Henderson 
dismissed the Assembly with these memorable words, uttered 
in a solemn and emphatic voice : " We have now cast down 
the walls of Jericho; let him that rebuildeth them beware of the 
curse of Hid the Betheliter "And so," says Baillie, "we 
all departed with great comfort and humble joy, casting our- 
selves and our poor Church in the arms of our good God." 

The Assembly of 1638 may be regarded as one of the 
noblest efforts ever made by the Church to assert her intrinsic 
independence, and the sole headship of Christ. Single mar- 
tyrs have borne witness to the same purpose — single minis- 
ters, and even congregations, have stood out boldly for the 
same truth; but here we have the whole Church of Scotland, 
by her representatives, in her judicial capacity, lifting up her 
voice and proclaiming, before the whole world, the sovereign 
rights of her Lord and King. No church, except one con- 
stituted on the Presbyterian model, could have borne such 
a testimony, or gained such a triumph ; and the simple fact, 
that such a noble stand was once made by the Church of 
Scotland should endear her to the hearts of all who, what- 
ever may be their denomination, are the genuine friends of 
liberty, of the Christian religion, and of the best interests of 

There can be no doubt that the original demands of the 
Covenanters came short of the abolition of Episcopacy; and 
that they would have been contented, at the outset, with 
some limitation of the power of the bishops, and their sub- 
jection to General Assemblies, with the discharge of the 


articles of Perth and of the high commission court, and with 
the free entry of ministers. But by degrees their eyes were 
opened to discover the root of all these evils — the Prelacy 
itself; and nothing tended more to produce this discovery 
than the measures of the court, which may be said to have 
driven them, step by step, into the right course, beyond their 
first intentions, and in some cases against them. This is 
repeatedly referred to in the speeches delivered at the Glas- 
gow Assembly, and in their public papers, with dutiful ac- 
knowledgments to that mysterious Providence "who had 
made the wrath of man to praise him," and secured to him- 
self the whole honour of a reformation accomplished by 
instruments who could not assume any of the credit to them- 

Having described the external reformation thus effected, 
let us now take a glance into the interior of a Presbyterian 
kirk, and see how the public worship was conducted about 
1638. At eight o'clock on Sabbath morning appeared in the 
desk the reader, whose office it was to read the prayers from 
Knox's liturgy, and portions of Scripture, before the minister 
entered the pulpit. These readers were found so useful to 
the ministers, that, though the office had been declared by 
the General Assembly to be without warrant, they were still 
allowed to officiate, and continued to do so till the Westmin- 
ster Assembly, when, much against the inclination of our 
Scots commissioners, they were condemned. The last relic 
of these ancient functionaries appeared in the practice, which 
was common till of late in some of the parishes of Scotland, 
of the precentor or schoolmaster reading some chapters of 
the Bible before the ringing of the last bell. 1 

Immediately on entering the pulpit the minister kneeled 
down and began with prayer, the people generally kneeling 
also. It was customary at some part of the service to repeat 
the Lord's prayer and the doxology; but in other respects 
the worship was unfettered by forms, the officiating minister 
guiding the devotions of his flock, as Justin Martyr describes 
those of the primitive Christians, " according to his ability, 
without a prompter." Prayer being ended, the congregation 
joined in singing a portion of the Psalms; a part of the ser- 
vice in which they took great delight, and in which they 
1 Baillie's Letters, i. 413; Scott's MSS., Adv. Lib. 


were so well instructed, that many of them could sing with- 
out the aid of a psalm-book. 1 No such pains had been taken 
to instruct the people of England in this part of divine wor- 
ship. So far from being able to sing the Psalms "without 
buik," many of them were not able even to read them; and 
hence the Westminster divines found it necessary to enact, 
that, "for the present, where many in the congregation can- 
not read, it is convenient that the minister, or some other fit 
person appointed by him and the other ruling officers, do 
read the Psalm line by line, before the singing thereof" 2 — an 
act of toleration which our Scottish ministers yielded with no 
small reluctance. "Then," says Lightfoot, in his Journal of 
the Assembly, "was our directory read over to the Scots com- 
missioners, who were absent at the passing of it; and Mr. 
Henderson disliked our permission of any to read the Psalms 
line by line; and this business held us in some debate." 3 

The Psalm being sung, the minister offered up another 
short prayer, beseeching the influences of the Spirit to accom- 
pany the word preached. And then followed the sermon; 
which having been succeeded by prayer and praise, the con- 
gregation was dismissed with the apostolic blessing. The 
Presbyterian discourses of this and the succeeding period, 
though some of them may not please a fastidious taste, and 
others are disfigured by a certain homeliness of style, hardly 
compatible, in our eyes, with the dignity of religious subjects, 
uniformly possess the sterling merit of rich evangelical senti- 

1 From a very early period the Psalms of David, which were translated 
into metre by Sternhold and Hopkins, were sung in the Scots churches, and 
great pains were used to instruct the people in psalmody. From a curious 
document in the handwriting of Calderwood, we find that "men, women, 
and children were exhorted to exercise themselves in the Psalms," and that 
"sundry musicians of best skill and affection, for furtherance of the act 
of parliament anent the instructing of the youth in musick, have set down 
common and proper tunes to the whole psalms, according to the diverse 
forms of metre" {Bannatyne Miscellany, p. 231). In 1631 there appeared 
a new version of Psalms, said to have been composed by King James; 
and Charles, among his other ill-judged innovations, insisted on this version 
being used instead of the old one. But our fathers had various objections 
to it. Calderwood says, "The people are acquainted with the old meta- 
phrase more than any book in Scripture ; yea, some can sing all, or the most 
part, without buik, and some that cannot read can sing some Psalms" {Ibid.) 
Mr. Row informs us that in the new version "there were some expressions 
so poetical, and so far from the language of Canaan, that all who had any 
religion did dislike them ; such as calling the sun the lord of light, and the 
moon the pale ladie of the night," &c. {Row's MS. Hist. p. 263). 

3 Directory for Public Worship. 3 Lightfoot's Works, xiii. 344. 


ment and Christian experience; and in this respect present a 
striking contrast to the Episcopal sermons of the same time, 
which are, in general, the driest, most jejune, and most pe- 
dantic productions imaginable. 

The dress of the ministers was extremely simple. In 1610 
King James, among other cares for his mother Kirk, sent di- 
rections from court that all ministers should wear black 
clothes, and when in the pulpit should appear in black gowns. 
In general, however, the Presbyterian ministers preferred the 
old Geneva cloak, which had much the appearance of a gown. 
As to the people generally, they seem to have conducted 
themselves during divine service with suitable decorum; 
though the following extract from the minutes of the kirk- 
session of Perth would indicate that clergymen were occa- 
sionally exposed to annoyances similar to those of which 
they have had to complain in more modern times: — "John 
Tenender, session-officer, is ordained to have his red staff in 
the kirk on the Sabbath-days, therewith to wauken sleepers, 
and to remove greeting bairns furth of the kirk." 1 

According to the form now described public worship was 
conducted in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation 
down to the period of which we are writing; and it has con- 
tinued, with a few inconsiderable variations, to be the form 
observed from that time to the present. Laud's service-book 
did not survive the tumult of July, 1637; and no attempt was 
made, even during the persecuting reigns of the Stuarts, to 
impose another book of prayers on the Scottish Church. 2 

1 Scott's MS. Register, ad. an. 1616. 

2 The Countryman's Letter to the Curate; Sir G. Mackenzie's Vindica- 
tion, p. 9; Dr. M'Crie's Miscellaneous Writings, p. 277. — The English 
liturgy was not introduced into Scotland till about 1711. Attempts were 
made to introduce it in 1707, but neither then, nor for several years after- 
wards, was it generally used, many of the Episcopal clergy being greatly 
opposed to it, and continuing till their death to conduct the worship much 
after the Presbyterian form. (Dejoe s History of t lie Union, Preface 20-27. 
MS. in my possession.) 


1639— 1640. 

The bishops 1 war — Preparations of the Covenanters — Encampment at 
Dnnse Law — Pacification at Birks — General Assembly, 1639 — Private 
meetings — Lord and Lady Loudoun — Civil war renewed by Charles. 

It does not fall within the scope of our history to enter 
on a minute description of the hostilities which commenced 
shortly after the dissolution of the Glasgow Assembly of 1638, 
or to settle the much disputed question, Who began the civil 
war? Those acquainted with the numerous causes which 
conspired to bring about this collision will not place much 
weight on the meeting of that Assembly. It has been alleged 
by many that Charles' concessions were such as ought to 
have satisfied the Scots; but they well knew that these 
concessions were not sincere, that he only waited the oppor- 
tunity to retract them, and that he had been all the time 
making warlike preparations to prostrate their liberties at 
his feet. One thing is certain, that whoever may have been 
to blame in commencing hostilities, the Scots used every 
effort to prevent, and showed every disposition to terminate 
them. Aware that their proceedings at Glasgow would be 
misrepresented, and eagerly taken advantage of, they sent up 
a supplication to the king, in which they most humbly and 
respectfuly explained the reasons of their conduct. All, 
however, was of no avail. No sooner was it known at court 
that the Assembly had continued to sit after being discharged 
by the commissioners, than the king meditated revenge. He 
was so highly incensed at the Covenanters, says Burnet, that 
"he resolved neither to think nor talk of treating with them, 
till he should appear among them in a more formidable 
position." They had touched him on the tender point of the 
royal prerogative. As the champion of Prelacy he deemed 



himself bound in conscience to resent the insult offered to 
the order. In short, his pride was piqued, and nothing would 
satisfy him but unconditional submission. The only answer 
he made on reading their supplication was, "When they 
have broken my head, they will put on my cowl." He im- 
mediately raised an army in England, with which he advanced 
to the border, ordered a fleet to blockade the Firth of Forth, 
and despatched the Marquis of Hamilton with another army, 
to land in the north, and join the forces under the command 
of the Marquis of Huntly. As the parliament of England, 
with whom Charles had also quarrelled, refused to grant him 
supplies for this outrageous undertaking, the bishops, by the 
advice of Laud, came forward with large contributions. The 
inferior clergy in the English Church declined all interference 
in the quarrel ; but the Papists, who expected everything from 
the triumph of the king's party, and acted under the private 
directions of the queen, were not slow in contributing to the 
object. 1 The war thus commenced, having been instigated 
by the advice, and supported by the money, of the prelates, 
and being, moreover, mainly designed to support their Epis- 
copal pretensions, was commonly called by the English the 
"bishops' war," and Charles was termed in ridicule, "Canter- 
bury's knight." 

The posture of Scotland at this crisis was sufficiently 
alarming; but our fathers were not to be intimidated. They 
would not submit to be trampled on by a bigoted court, 
and an infuriated bench of bishops. "Certainly," says Baillie, 
"our dangers were greater than we might let our people con- 
ceive ; but the truth is, we lived by faith in God, we knew the 
goodness of our cause, and we were resolved to stand to it 
at all hazards whatsoever, knowing the worst to be a glorious 
death for the cause of God and our dear country." Animated 
by such pious and patriotic sentiments, the nation rose almost 
simultaneously, and made vigorous preparations for meeting 
the threatened invasion. Charles, who had boasted in his 
letters and proclamations that he would force the Scots to 
unconditional submission, soon discovered the truth of which 
the Marquis of Hamilton forewarned him, that "while the 
fire-edge was upon the Scottish spirits, it would not prove An 

1 Clarendon's State Papers, vol. ii.; Hardwick's State Papers, vol. ii. pp. 
118-124, &c. ; Prynne's Hidden Works of Darkness, p. 177, &c 

1639.] THE BISHOPS WAR. r 71 

easy task to tame them." 1 An army was soon levied by the 
orders of parliament, and placed under the command ot 
General Leslie, a brave old veteran who had been trained to 
war under that noble champion of Protestantism, Gustavus 
Adolphus, king of Sweden. Beacons were erected along 
the country, so constructed, that when a fire was lighted at 
the foot of a long pole, they were to stand to their arms; 
when another fire was kindled on a grate fixed to a trans- 
verse beam, they were to repair to their regiments; and in 
case of imminent danger, the whole army was summoned to 
the scene of action by the lighting of a tar-barrel placed on 
the top of the pole. By a series of vigorous measures, the 
Covenanters soon made themselves masters of all the fortified 
places in Scotland. Apprehending danger from the king's 
fleet, they took care to fortify the town of Leith ; and such 
was the zeal manifested by all classes, that about one thousand 
five hundred of both sexes, including ladies as well as gen- 
tlemen, wrought in the trenches till the fortifications were 
completed.' 2 

But while thus providing for self-defence, the Covenanters 
took care to vindicate themselves from the calumnies of their 
enemies. 3 The king having denounced them as traitors and 
rebels, even before they took up arms, and every effort being 
used by the bishops to render them odious in the eyes of the 
English, they published a paper, in which they " take God 
to witness that religion was the only subject, conscience the 
motive, and reformation the aim, of their designs;" 4 and 
that they had no intention of invading England, or casting 
off their dutiful obedience to his majesty's lawful commands. 
And when they found themselves compelled to take up arms, 
another paper appeared, 5 prepared by Henderson, in which 

1 Burnet's Memoirs of the Duke of Hamilton, p. 140. 

2 "Noblemen, gentlemen, and others wrought at it; and none busier in 
bearing the rubbish than ladies of honour." {Guthrie's Memoirs, p. 54.) 

3 Some of these calumnies, though fully refuted at the time, are retailed 
even to this day. For example, the Glasgow Assembly is charged with 
having restrained the liberty of the press; whereas they only prohibited any 
from printing "anything that concerned the Kirk, without authority from 
the Kirk, under the pain of Church censure — a privilege ordinarily used 
from the time of the Reformation." (Remonstrance of the Nobility, &c, 
1639, p. 16; Printed Acts of Assembly, 1638.) 

* Information to all Good Christians within the Kingdom of England, 
p. 4. Edin. 1639. 

5 Instructions for Defensive Arms. Edin., 1639. 


the real state of the quarrel was explained, and their conduct 
in resorting to self-defence vindicated by many unanswerable 

At length the blazing tar-barrel announced that the inva- 
sion had taken place. A squadron of twenty-eight ships of 
war, carrying between five and six thousand English troops, 
under the Marquis of Hamilton, appeared in the Firth of 
Forth ; but the people flocking from all quarters to the point 
of danger, the fleet was literally pent up on both sides, and 
the soldiers durst not set a foot on shore. None dis- 
tinguished themselves more on this occasion than old Lady 
Hamilton, the mother of the marquis, who was so zealous a 
Covenanter that she came on horseback to Leith at the head 
of an armed troop, with two pistols at her saddle; protest- 
ing, as is affirmed, that she would kill the marquis with her 
own hand if he should venture to land in a hostile way: for 
which purpose, it is said, she had loaded her pistols with 
balls of gold instead of lead. It is certain she paid him a 
visit on board his ship while he lay in the Forth. What 
passed at this interview we are not informed; but the people 
augured the best from it. "The son of such a mother," 
they said, "will do us no harm." 1 Hamilton was soon glad 
to make his escape when he heard the tidings from the 
Borders. The Scots encountered at Kelso a part of the 
English army much superior to their own in numbers, and 
at the first onset the English threw down their arms and 
fled, with the loss of three hundred men. "It would," says 
an English writer, " make too much sport with the English 
courage and bravery, which is so well confirmed in the 
world, to give an account how like scoundrels this army 
behaved."- "The English soldiers," says Baillie, "were a 
great deal more nimble at flying than fighting; and it was 
difficult to tell whether the arms of their cavalry were more 
weary with whipping, or their heels with jading their horses." 3 
The real fact was that the English had no heart in the 

1 Whitelocke's Memorials, p. 30. The story about the "balls of gold" 
rests on the authority of Gordon of Straloch's MS. (none of the purest 
sources, to be sure); but the heroism of the old marchioness is noticed by 
Spang. {Hist. Motuum, p. 357.) 

2 Defoe's Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, p. 189. 

3 Baillie's Letters, i. 210. Ban. edit. 


business. 1 Whitelocke tells us that though " the Scots had 
been proclaimed rebels in England, and a prayer was pub- 
lished to be used in all the churches against them; yet 
nothing could alter the opinion of the English officers and 
private soldiers, who said 'they would not fight to maintain 
the pride and power of the bishops.'" 2 They had been 
impressed into the service against their will; while the Scots, 
a nation sometimes vanquished but never subdued, felt at 
the time, as Baillie says, that they would not have been 
afraid " though all Europe had been on their borders." 

Encouraged by their success, but still standing on the 
defensive, the Scots encamped at Dunse Law, a hill near 
that town, in the beginning of June, 1639. The appear- 
ance they presented on this occasion is described with such 
naivete by Baillie, that we cannot give it better than in his 
own words: — 

" It would have done you good to have cast your eyes 
athort our brave and rich hills as oft as I did with great 
contentment and joy; for I was there among the rest, 
having been chosen preacher by the gentlemen of our shire. 
I carried, as the fashion was, a sword and a couple of Dutch 
pistols at my saddle; but I promise for the offence of no 
man except a robber in the way; for it was our part alone 
to pray and preach for the encouragement of our country- 
men — which I did to my power most cheerfully. Our 
regiment lay on the sides of the hill almost round about. 
Every company had fleeing at the captain's tent-door a 
brave new colour stamped with the Scottish arms and this 
motto, For Christ's Crown and Covenant, in golden letters. 
Our soldiers were all lusty and full of courage; the most of 
them stout young ploughmen; great cheerfulness in the face 
of all. They were clothed in olive or gray plaiden, with 
bonnets having knots of blue ribands. The captains, who 
were barons or country gentlemen, were distinguished by 
blue ribands worn scarf-wise across the body. None of our 
gentlemen were anything the worse of lying some weeks to- 

1 The king wrote to Hamilton that he was now fully satisfied of what 
that nobleman had told him in the gallery at Whitehall, viz. "That the 
nobility and gentry of England would never incline to invade Scotland, and 
thereby begin an offensive war." {Mem. of D. Hamilton, p. 139; Nalson, 
i. 231.) 

2 Whitelocke's Memoirs, ut sup. 


gether in their cloaks and boots on the ground. Our mean- 
est soldiers were always served in wheat bread, and a groat 
would have got them a lamb leg, which was a dainty world 
to the most of them. We were much obliged to the town 
of Edinburgh for money: Mr. Harry Rollok by his sermons 
moved them to shake out their purses. Every one encour- 
aged another. The sight of the nobles and their beloved 
pastors daily raised their hearts. The good sermons and 
prayers morning and evening under the roof of heaven, 
to which their drums did call them instead of bells, also 
Leslie's skill, prudence, and fortune, made them as resolute 
for battle as could be wished. We were feared that emula- 
tion among our nobles might have done harm; but such 
was the wisdom and authority of that old little crooked soldier 
(General Leslie), that all, with an incredible submission, 
gave over themselves to be guided by him, as if he had 
been the great Solyman. Had you lent your ear in the 
morning, and especially at even, and heard in the tents the 
sound of some singing psalms, some praying, and some read- 
ing the Scripture, ye would have been refreshed. True, 
there was swearing and cursing and brawling in some quar- 
ters whereat we were grieved; but we hoped, if our camp 
had been a little settled, to have gotten some way for these 
misorders. For myself, I never found myself in better 
temper than I was all that time till my head was again home- 
ward; for I was as a man who had taken my leave from the 
vvorld, and was resolved to die in that service without re- 
turn." 1 

Such were the people whom Charles compelled to rise in 
self-defence. The motto on their banners, for Christ's 
crown and covenant, 2 was meant to vindicate their ap- 
pearance in arms by proclaiming to the world that it was 
solely in behalf of the rights of conscience and religion. 
This gave a religious character to the whole enterprise, 
which it w r as of vital importance to keep in view; for 
Charles and his bishops had taken great pains to represent 
them as a set of lawless rebels, actuated by a factious spirit, 
and aiming at the subversion of royal authority. It was 

1 Baillie's Letters, i. 211, Ban. edit. 

2 That is, for the royal headship of Christ over his church, and for the 
covenant in support of it. 


chiefly, too, to contradict this calumny, and show the sacred- 
ness as well as justness of their quarrel, that the ministers 
took such a prominent part in the war both in the pulpit 
and in the field, and, I may add, in the cabinet also. From 
not attending to this circumstance they have been re- 
proached not only by prelatical writers, but by others from 
whom better things might have been expected. To such as 
condemn defensive war even when the dearest rights of a 
people are invaded, and who would adduce such passages of 
Scripture as : " The weapons of our warfare are not carnal," 
and, " All they that take the sword shall perish by the sword," 
which were quoted at the time by the advocates of slavish 
submission to a despot, with the view of preventing a whole 
nation from using the only weapons by which they could 
vindicate their civil and religious liberties — to such persons 
we can only reply as one did of old, " We are not careful to 
answer you in this matter." Away with such pusillanimity! 
Scotland has ever been a loyal nation ; but touch her on the 
point of conscience and it will be found that, like her em- 
blematic thistle, she cannot be touched with impunity. She 
has ever been more anxious to secure her religious rights 
than to enjoy civil privileges; her love of liberty has hitherto 
been entwined with her love of religion; and if these twin- 
sisters should ever be dissevered, we fear that the blow which 
divides them will prove fatal to both. We shall say no 
more in vindication of our Scottish ministers than that their 
magnanimous spirit in coming to the field presents a striking 
contrast to the conduct of the bishops, who, after inciting 
the unfortunate monarch to fight against his subjects, accom- 
panied him only to York, and then left him in the hour of 
peril to finish as he best might the war which they had urged 
him to begin. 1 

The issue of the affair at Dunse Law was, that the king, 
perceiving the determined front opposed to him, and his 
own troops daily deserting, proposed a negotiation for peace. 
Commissioners from the army of the covenant, among whom 
were the Earls of Rothes and Loudoun, and Alexander 
Henderson, having first required a safe-conduct under the 
king's own hand, were admitted to an audience with his 
majesty, in his camp at Birks, on the south side of the 

1 Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, p. 189. 


Tweed; and upon being required to state their demands 
Loudoun, falling on his knees, said, that "they only asked 
to enjoy their religion and liberties, according to the ecclesi- 
astical and civil laws of the kingdom." In particular, they 
entreated that the acts of the late Assembly at Glasgow 
should be ratified by parliament; that all matters ecclesiastical 
should be determined by the assemblies of the kirk, and 
matters civil by parliament ; and that those incendiaries who 
had endeavoured to set two neighbour kingdoms at variance 
might be tried by the laws of their country, and punished 
according to their deserts. A treaty was at length agreed 
upon, of a very general and ambiguous description, but which 
the Covenanters, in their extreme desire of peace, gratefully 
accepted. 1 The commissioners were sumptuously entertained 
by the officers of the king's army: Rothes kept them all in 
good humour by his jests and anecdotes; and thus, as one 
of the English wits observed, the bishops were beaten on this 
occasion, "neither by civil law, nor by canon law, but by 
Dunse Law." The commissioners returned, thankful for, 
rather than proud of, their success, and the army was dis- 
banded, though, having intelligence of a treacherous design 
to break the treaty, they still kept the officers on half-pay. 
"Yea," says Baillie, who was a high loyalist, though a stanch 
Covenanter, "had we been ten times victorious in set battles, 
it was our conclusion to have laid down our army at his feet, 
and on our knees presented nought but our first supplications. 
We had no other end of our wars; we sought no crowns; we 
aimed at no lands and honours; we desired but to keep our 
own in the service of our prince, as our ancestors had done ; 
we loved no new masters. Had our throne been void, and 
our voices been sought for the rilling of Fergus' chair, we 
would have died ere any had sitten down on that fatal marble 
but Charles alone."- Such, we have reason to believe, were 
the sentiments of the whole Scottish nation at this time. 
Such was their loyalty, as it appears in all their public papers, 
and, as it was proved, through all the political changes that 

1 " In the course of the negotiation the Scots told the king that if he 
would give them leave to enjoy their religion and their laws, they would, 
at their own expense, transport their army to assist in the recovery of the 
Palatinate — a memorable circumstance unnoticed by historians. {Macau/ay's 
Hist., ii. 205: Sydney's State Papers, ii. 602.) 

- Baillie's Letters, i. 215. 


followed, down to the restoration of Charles II. , which was 
brought about mainly by the Presbyterians. And such were 
the men who are stigmatized to this day as republican and 
anti-monarchical rebels! 

Charles, we may easily believe, was much mortified at 
being compelled to treat with men whom he had doomed to 
destruction; and he resolved, on the first opportunity, to 
break through all his engagements. He began by blaming 
the Scots for not discharging their officers, and for pressing 
the covenant upon his subjects. To these complaints it was 
answered, that as General Leslie, and those who had accom- 
panied him, had relinquished their posts of honour and 
profit in Sweden to serve their native country, they judged 
themselves bound in honour to give them entertainment; 
and that as to the covenant, they could aver that none had, 
to their knowledge, been forced to subscribe it. The king 
then attempted a new stratagem : he sent an order for four- 
teen of the leading noblemen and ministers to hold a confer- 
ence with him at Berwick, with the purpose, there can be no 
doubt, of entrapping them. Six of the number waited on his 
majesty, but he declined imparting his pleasure till the whole 
fourteen were present; and the six were dismissed, like 
Joseph's brethren, upon promise that they should return and 
bring up the rest with them. This step excited the utmost 
alarm in Edinburgh : they had now began to distrust the king 
in everything; they suspected a plot against their leaders; 
and when the fourteen, among whom was Mr. Henderson, 
were setting out on their way to Berwick, they were stopped 
at the Watergate by a multitude of the lower classes, who 
took their horses from them, and ordered them to stay at 
home — an order which, as may be supposed, they were not 
very unwilling to obey. 1 

Notwithstanding this affront, by which he was deeply 
offended, the king found himself obliged to sanction a meet- 
ing of the General Assembly, which was appointed to be held 
at Edinburgh, in August, 1639. The Earl of Traquair was 
sent as commissioner, with secret instructions to prevent, if 
possible, the condemnation of Episcopacy, and to protest, at 
the close of the Assembly, that any concessions made by him, 

1 A True Representation of the Proceedings of the Kingdome of Scotland 
since the late Pacification. Printed in the year of God 1640, p. 21. 



with which the king might be dissatisfied, "his majesty 
should be heard for redress thereof, in his own time and 
place." The Assembly was placed in a somewhat awkward 
predicament, in consequence of an agreement entered into 
by the Scots commissioners at the pacification at Birks, that 
no reference should be made to the proceedings of the 
Glasgow meeting. This agreement, however, which showed 
their ardent desire for a peaceful settlement of the contention, 
was qualified at the time by a declaration, that though his 
majesty could not approve the Glasgow Assembly, it was not 
his majesty's mind that any of the Presbyterians "should be 
thought to disapprove or depart from the same." Accord- 
ingly, when Traquair would have had them consider all that 
was done against the bishops at that time as null and void, 
the Assembly firmly answered, that they were careful not to 
offend the king by requiring any formal approbation on his 
part of the Glasgow Assembly; but that, "while they breathed, 
they would not pass from that Assembly." Finding them 
determined, the commissioner, to their great joy and aston- 
ishment, announced his seemingly gracious concessions, and, 
with consummate duplicity, pledged himself, in his sovereign's 
name, to sanction an act of Assembly, embracing all the 
points for which the Covenanters had struggled, assenting to 
the abolition of Episcopacy and of all the innovations and 
evils condemned by the Glasgow Assembly, and undertook 
to get this act ratified in parliament. This artifice succeeded : 
the suspicions of the Presbyterians were lulled, and the de- 
claration of the commissioner threw them into raptures of 
devout joy and chivalrous loyalty. The stern heroes of the 
covenant were melted into tears; and the venerable patriarchs 
of the old Presbyterian Church, who had served at her altars 
for half a century, and who had mourned her degradation in 
silent sorrow or sad captivity, poured out their hearts in thanks- 
giving to God and the king in the most affecting terms. 1 

"Old Mr. John Row being called upon, with tears said, 
'I bless, I glorify, I magnify the God of heaven and earth, 
that has pitied this poor church, and given us such matter of 
joy and consolation; and the Lord make us thankful first to 
our gracious and loving God, and next, obedient subjects to 
his majesty.' 

1 Records of the Kirk of Scotland, p. 273. 

1639.] THE J OY 0F THE ASSEMBLY. 1 79 

"Mr. John Weymes, being called on, could scarce get a 
word spoken for tears trickling down along his grey hairs, 
like drops of rain or dew upon the top of the tender grass; 
and yet withal smiling for joy, he said, 'I do remember of a 
glorious reformation in Scotland. I do remember when the 
Kirk of Scotland had a beautiful face. I remember since there 
was a great power and life accompanying the ordinances of 
God, and a wonderful work and operation upon the hearts of 
the people. This mine eyes did see; mine eyes did see a 
fearful defection after, procured by our sins; and no more 
did I wish, before mine eyes were closed, but to have seen 
such a beautiful day as, to my great comfort, I now see this 
day, and that, under the conduct and favour of our king's 
majesty. Blessed for evermore be our Lord and King, Jesus ; 
and the blessing of God be upon his majesty, and the Lord 
make us thankful!' 

"The moderator (David Dickson) said, 'I believe the 
king's majesty made never the heart of any so blyth in giving 
them a bishoprick as he has made the heart of that reverend 
man joyful in putting them away. Would God the king's 
majesty had a part of our joy that we have this day.'" 1 

The same Assembly condemned the book entitled the 
"King's Large Declaration," and understood to be the pro- 
duction of Dr. Balcanqual, as an infamous libel, "dishonour- 
able to God, to the king's majesty, and to the national Kirk, 
and stuffed full of lies and calumnies." To crown their 
triumph, they obtained the sanction of the commissioner and 
of the Scottish privy-council to the covenant as it had been 
sworn the preceding year; and it was accordingly ordered 
to be subscribed by all ranks and classes within the kingdom. 

So much has been said about the Scottish Presbyterians at 
this period compelling the lieges to swear the covenant, that 
a few words may be necessary to explain this part of their 
histoiy. We have already seen that, at first, no compulsion 
was used, with the consent either of the Church or of the 
parliament, in imposing the covenant. Aberdeen was almost 
the only town that could complain of being forced into the 
bond ; and for this the Aberdonians had themselves to blame, 
having taken up arms against the Covenanters, and thus set 

1 MS. Journal of the General Assembly, 1639 [penes me), p. 372; Records 
of the Kirk, p. 251. 


themselves against the whole country. 1 So that when 
Montrose was sent in 1639, to that "unnatural toun," as it 
was called, he took it upon himself, without any authority, to 
compel the bailies and chief persons to subscribe the cove- 
nant. The same conduct, we regret to say, was followed by 
Colonel Munro, a Highland gentleman, who had distinguished 
himself abroad, and who, being accustomed to pillage in the 
German wars, suppressed the king's adherents in the north 
with unjustifiable severity. Having been sent to Aberdeen 
to oppose the Marquis of Huntly and the Earl of Aboyne, 
who were levying forces and fortifying that part of the 
country against the Covenanters, the colonel's first exploit, 
for which he had no warrant from Church or state, was to 
impose the covenant on all whom he suspected of disaffection: 
and for disobedience to this injunction, Mr. Irvine of Drum, 
and twelve other gentlemen, with twenty-six burgesses of 
Aberdeen, were sent up as prisoners to Edinburgh, till, 
as Munro said, "they should learn to speak the country 
language." These are the only instances in which we hear 
of any severe measures to enforce the covenant ; and when 
it is considered that they were adopted during the heat of a 
civil war, and committed, in the first instance, by one who 
proved a renegade, and in the other, by a rough soldier of 
fortune, who had no notion of conscientious scruples in the 
matter, they are hardly worth the indignation that has been 
wasted on them. 

1 The following letter affords decided evidence that the leaders of the 
covenant had not the slightest intention of enforcing it by civil pains and 
penalties. It was written by the Earl of Rothes to his cousin, Patrick Leslie, 
who was provost of Aberdeen: " Loving Cousin, — Because your town of 
Aberdeen is now the only burgh in Scotland that hath not subscribed the 
Confession of Faith [so the covenant was then termed], and all the good 
they can obtain thereby is, that if we sail fairly, as there is very good condi- 
tion offered, they shall be under perpetual ignominy, and the doctors that 
are unsound punished by the Assembly; and if things go to extremity because 
they refuse, and in hopes of the Marquis of Huntly's help, the king will 
perhaps send in some ship or ships and men there as a sure place; and if 
that be good for the country judge ye of it. It is but a fighting against the 
high God to resist this course. . . . Do all the good ye can in that town 
and the country about: ye will not repent it; and attend my Lord Montrose, 
who is a noble and true-hearted cavalier. ... I am your friend and 
cousin, — ROTHES. Leslie, 13th July, 1638." {Rothes Relation, App., p. 
216.) The passage in the above letter respecting the Marquis of Montrose, 
who at this time professed great zeal for the covenant, is worthy of notice. 
We shall find this "noble and true-hearted cavalier" appearing, a few years 
after this, in his true colours. 


But why, it may be asked, did they procure an order to 
enforce subscription to the covenant by civil pains and 
penalties? Far be it from us to defend persecution for reli- 
gious opinions, or to justify the Covenanters in any instance 
where it can be shown they were guilty of this ; but to form 
a candid judgment on the question, we must consider the 
circumstances in which our fathers were placed. In a time 
of civil war it is found necessary to administer tests and 
exact compliances which would be thought intolerable in a 
time of peace; and as this war was raised entirely on reli- 
gious grounds, the covenant, which was intended as a bond 
of mutual defence and confederation, was the only effectual 
means of distinguishing friends from foes. Had there been 
a party in the country conscientiously opposed to Presby- 
tery, and yet favourable to the struggle made by the Presby- 
terians for civil liberty, a civil test would have been quite 
sufficient. But no such party existed. Those opposed to 
Presbytery were all the advocates and abettors of civil 
despotism; those who would not abjure Prelacy would have 
wreathed around the necks of their countrymen the galling 
chains of civil and ecclesiastical thraldom. The name oi 
malignants, which this party now acquired, shows the light 
in which they were generally regarded. But the best vindi- 
cation of the Presbyterians is to be found in their actual 
practice. Though they considered it necessary to obtain 
the sanction of the civil power to the covenant, by which it 
was constituted a legal and national deed, and though severe 
laws were afterwards passed against those who refused sub- 
scription to it which cannot in themselves be defended, yet 
it is not possible to point to a single instance in which any 
were put to death ; and very few instances occurred in which 
any were subjected to hardships for refusing to subscribe it. 

Superficial thinkers have been accustomed to indulge in 
sage reflections on the intolerance of our Scottish ancestors; 
professing to wonder that on escaping from persecution they 
should have become persecutors themselves ; and charitably 
concluding that, had they possessed the power, they would 
like all dominant sects have abused it as much as their 
opponents. As their history becomes better understood, 
such sentiments are found to require considerable qualifica- 
tion. Men of sense and candour, guided by the spirit of a 


less flimsy religion and the light of a sounder philosophy, 
are beginning to discover that the intolerance of the Cove- 
nanters, if it indeed deserves that name, was all on the side 
of liberty; that the power which they claimed was wielded 
in the promotion of morality and liberal education; and 
that their measures, severe and trenchant as they may be 
thought, if successful, would have issued in the entire demoli- 
tion of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny. 

The proceedings of the General Assembly of 1639, while 
they diffused general joy through Scotland, gave mortal 
offence to the king, who blamed his commissioner for hav- 
ing exceeded his instructions, so that when the Scottish 
parliament met for the purpose of ratifying the acts of As- 
sembly, they were prorogued by royal mandate till June, 
1640. 1 Against this arbitrary proceeding the members re- 
monstrated, and sent the Earl of Loudoun with other depu- 
ties to London, to lay their grievances at the foot of the 
throne. The result was that Loudoun was sent to the Tower 
on a charge of high treason; and if we are to believe the 
secret history of the period, the king resolved to despatch 
him privately, without trial or even charge, after the manner 
of an Eastern sultan. About three o'clock in the afternoon 
he sent an order to Sir William Balfour, the lieutenant of 
the Tower, to see Lord Loudoun's head struck off within the 
prison before nine the next morning. When the sentence 
was communicated to the prisoner, he heard it with the 
utmost composure; but the lieutenant, anxious to save him 
from death and his majesty from disgrace, apprised the 
Marquis of Hamilton, and both immediately repaired to the 
king, whom they found in bed, and earnestly besought him to 
reverse the warrant. At first Charles stormed, and declared 
with an oath that it should be executed; but on Hamilton 
setting before him the danger of the measure he yielded, 
and sullenly tore the warrant in pieces. 2 

1 Even this parliament the king refused to sanction. The estates, however, 
met at the time appointed, June 1640, and, in the absence of the king's com- 
missioner, voted themselves a legal parliament, and among other acts, ratified 
the General Assembly at Glasgow, and rescinded all laws in favour of Prelacy. 

2 Burnet's Mem. of Hamilton, p. 161; Rushworth, iii. 99; Oldmixon's 
England, i. 140; Scots Staggering State, &c. — "This is so extraordinary 
an event," says Mr. Brodie, "that I rejected it in the first instance: but, on a 
maturer reflection, I have seen it in a different light." {Hist. British Empire, 
ii- 5IS-) 


We notice this incident chiefly for the purpose of intro- 
ducing another not so generally known regarding the lady 
of this illustrious nobleman. On hearing of her husband's 
imprisonment, Lady Loudoun presented in person a peti- 
tion to the Scottish parliament, beseeching them to interfere 
in his behalf from consideration of the loss which his family 
and the country would sustain by his death. The parlia- 
ment having cheerfully acceded to this request, her ladyship 
returned them thanks. " But," said the heroine, " I hope 
your lordships will not suffer your loving apprehension of 
my husband's danger to restrain you from any course which 
your lordships think advantageous for the Kirk and kingdom. 
To these I desire your lordships to have regard only, and 
never to prejudice them in the least for any compassionate 
consideration of my dear husband's suffering." 1 Had this 
speech been delivered by the lady of a cavalier, it would 
doubtless have called forth universal and unbounded ad- 
miration. But Lady Loudoun was a Covenanter; and it is 
probable that in certain quarters this will share the fate of 
similar instances of female heroism and self-denial at this 
period, which our High Church historians can only account 
for on the supposition that these ladies, in their zeal for 
securing to their husbands the crown of martyrdom, must 
have been contemplating the advantages of a second match ! 
Such writers are as incapable of appreciating the sacred 
enthusiasm of these high-spirited women as they are of 
understanding the manly principles which animated their 
husbands and brothers in this noble cause. 

While thus involved in outward trouble, the Presbyterians 
were threatened with intestine discord from a dispute which 
arose in 1639 regarding private meetings. During the ty- 
ranny of the prelates, it had been customary for religious 
persons, particularly in Ireland, to meet in private houses 
for prayer and Christian conference; and the Scottish exiles, 
on returning home from that country after the expulsion of 
the bishops, felt naturally desirous to keep up these meet- 
ings from which they had derived much comfort in the time 
of their troubles. Some of them are said to have been 
tinctured with Brownism or Independency, and they were 
accused of various excesses and disorders. It seems un- 

1 MS. Register of Rescinded Acts, 1640, in Register Office. 


questionable that some of the more forward had, in their 
zeal for such means of private edification, spoken in disre- 
spectful terms of the ordinary ministry, or of some ministers 
who had opposed them. This roused the ire of Mr. Harry 
Guthrie, minister of Stirling, and afterwards Bishop of Dun- 
keld, who brought the matter for adjudication before the 
Assembly which met at Aberdeen in July, 1640. The con- 
sequence was a keen dispute, in which Samuel Rutherford 
defended the private meetings ; while Calderwood, who, from 
having witnessed the extravagances of the Brownists in Hol- 
land, entertained a great dread of anything approaching to 
Independency, argued against them. Much to the dissatis- 
faction of many, this Assembly condemned the practice; 
but the question having been renewed in the Assembly of 
1 64 1, was amicably settled by their agreeing to certain regu- 
lations, drawn up by Henderson, for preventing the abuse 
of such meetings. 1 

It is needless, as it is painful, to dwell on the subsequent 
proceedings of the infatuated monarch. Yielding to the soli- 
citations of his prelatical counsellors, and having obtained 
funds from them for renewing the war, Charles once more, in 
spite of all his promises, denounced the Scots as rebels, and, 
without any provocation, prepared to invade the country. 
On this occasion the Scottish army did not wait his approach, 
but entered England, and encountering the enemy at New- 
burn, gained another decisive victory on the 28th of August, 
1640. The result was another treaty, begun at Ripon and 
afterwards transferred to London. Mr. Henderson having 
been included among the commissioners for conducting this 
treaty, it was deemed advisable by the General Assembly 
that he should be accompanied by some of the ablest of his 
brethren, who might be useful in combating the errors of 
the times, and devising means for settling the unhappy dif- 
ferences which prevailed. The persons selected for this 
purpose were Mr. Robert Baillie, Mr. George Gillespie, and 
Mr. Robert Blair, who set out in high spirits for the English 
metropolis. " We rode," says Baillie in a letter to his wife, 
"upon little nags, each attended by his servant. We were 
by the way at great expenses; their inns are all like palaces; 

1 Guthrie's Memoirs, p. 78, et set/.; Baillie's Letters, i. p. 107; M'Crie's 
Miscellaneous Writings, p. 38, Ap. ii. ; Records of the Kirk, p. 294. 

1640.] TREATY AT LONDON. 1 85 

and no marvel — they extortion their guests. For three meals, 
coarse enough, we would pay, together with our horses, six- 
teen or seventeen pound sterling, and some three dishes of 
creevishes, like little partans, two and forty shillings sterling." 
Such was the humble guise in which the founders of the 
Solemn League went up to London, where they found every- 
thing prepared for an important change. " Mr. Blair and 
I," says Baillie, " preached to our commissioners at home ; 
for we had no clothes for outgoing. Many ministers used 
greater freedom than ever here was heard of. Episcopacy 
itself beginning to be cried down, and a covenant cried up, 
and a liturgy to be scorned. The town of London and a 
world of men mind to present a petition, which I have seen, 
for the abolition of bishops, deans, and all their appertean- 
ances. Huge things are here in working! All here are 
weary of bishops." 1 But to form a proper idea of the causes 
which led to this revolution the scene must now be trans- 
ferred for a little to England. 

1 Baillie's Letters, i. 271, 274, Ban. edit. 


1640 — 1647. 

The scene changes to England — The Star-chamber — Irish massacre — 77ie 
Long Parliament — The Solemn League and Covenant — Westminster As- 
sembly — George Gillespie — Westminster Standards — Presbyterianism in 
England — Presbyterianism in Ireland — Erastianism and sectarianism. 

From the unhappy hour when judicial toleration was 
granted to Popery, on the arrival of Charles' queen in Eng- 
land, there followed a series of arbitrary measures which 
alarmed the jealousy of the English nation. Archbishop 
Laud, who ruled the Church with a rod of iron, had been 
striving to reintroduce the worst errors of Romanism, and 
whatever might be his private motives, it was evident to all 
that the real tendency of his measures was to restore the au- 
thority of the pope. The proceedings of the infamous Star- 
chamber, over which he presided, had roused the indignation 
of all classes. Many of the best ministers in the land had 
been imprisoned, pilloried, or driven into banishment, for 
nonconformity. Multitudes of people, despairing of religious 
liberty at home, had submitted to voluntary exile, and fled 
to America, where they planted a colony in New England. 
Even this last resource was grudged them, and means were 
taken to prevent the emigration of the Puritans, as they were 
called. Among the rest, it is said, two individuals who had 
incurred the vengeance of the prelates, were on the point of 
embarking for the New World, when the government issued 
orders to prohibit the ship from sailing — these were John 
Hampden and Oliver Cromwell. And thus, if the report 
be true, in the inscrutable arrangements of Heaven it was 
ordered that these persons should remain to act their distin- 
guished part in the revolution which followed; and that the 
royal party should, in pursuance of their own reckless policy, 

1640.] THE STAR-CHAMBER. 1 87 

forcibly detain the very instruments destined for their own 

As a specimen of the cruelties exercised by the Star-cham- 
ber, we may notice their treatment of Dr. Alexander Leighton, 
father of the celebrated archbishop of that name. This wor- 
thy man, who was a professor of divinity in St. Andrews, was 
apprehended in London, at the instigation of Laud, and on 
the charge of having published a book, entitled "Zion's Plea 
against the Prelacy," was thrown into prison. There he lay 
in a filthy hole., infested with vermin, for fifteen weeks; and 
when served with his libel, he was reduced to such a state of 
distress that his hair and skin had come off his body, and he 
was unable to appear at the bar. In this wretched condition 
he was condemned, unheard, to suffer the following sentence 
in November, 1630. On hearing it pronounced, we are told 
that Laud "pulled off his cap and gave God thanks;" but the 
bare recital of it, in the petition of Dr. Leighton, some years 
afterwards, at the trial of the archbishop, sent such a thrill of 
horror through the parliament, that the clerk was repeatedly 
ordered to stop till the members had recovered themselves. 
"This horrid sentence was to be inflicted with knife, fire, 
and whip, at and upon the pillory, with ten thousand pounds 
fine; which some of the lords of court conceived could never 
be inflicted, but only that it was imposed on a dying man to 
terrify others. But Laud and his creatures caused the sen- 
tence to be executed with a witness; for the hangman was 
animated with strong drink all the night before in the prison, 
and with threatening words, to do it cruelly. Your petitioner's 
hands being tied to a stake, besides all other torments, he 
received thirty-six stripes with a treble cord; after which he 
stood almost two hours in the pillory, in cold, frost, and 
snow, and then suffered the rest, as cutting off the ear, firing 
the face, and slitting up the nose. He was made a spectacle 
of misery to men and angels. And on that day sevennight, 
the sores upon his back, ears, and face not being cured, he 
was again whipped at the pillory in Cheapside, and there had 
the remainder of the sentence executed, by cutting off the 
other ear, slitting up the other nostril, and branding the other 
cheek I" 1 

In June, 1637, similar punishments were inflicted on Mr. 

1 Neal's Hist, of the Puritans, ii. 385; Ludlow's Tracts, p. 23. 


Prynne, Dr. Bastwick, and Mr. Burton, three eminent Puritans, 
whose only crime was writing against Laud and his ceremon- 
ies. The generous spirit of the English people revolted at 
such exhibitions, which only rendered their perpetrators odi- 
ous, and prepared the way for their downfal. The sufferers 
at the pillory, instead of being mocked by the spectators, 
met with their cordial sympathy; and symptoms began to 
appear very plainly indicating that had Laud been placed in 
the same degrading position, with his "mean sallow visage, 
pinched features, and peering eyes," the very picture of the 
superstitious littleness of his mind, the spectacle would have 
been hailed with shouts of universal satisfaction. 1 

In 1 64 1 an event occurred which awakened the whole 
population of England, as well as Scotland, to a full sense 
of the danger to which their religion and liberties were 
exposed — we refer to the horrible massacre of the Protestants 
of Ireland by the Roman Catholics. The exact amount of the 
share which Charles had in this infamous transaction is 
involved in considerable perplexity; 2 but certain it is, that 
the avowed object of the leaders in the insurrection was to 
subjugate the parliament of England and the Scots army, and 
make common cause with the king in his struggle for 
arbitrary power. Religious rancour, goaded by superstition, 
lent its energies to this design. The ignorant natives, 
schooled by their priests into the belief that they would merit 
heaven by putting the heretics to death, received the sacra- 
ment before commencing the work of carnage, and they 

1 New Discovery of the Prelates' Tyranny, in their late Persecutions of 
Dr. Bastwick, Mr. Burton, and Mr. Prynne; Ludlow's Tracts, p. 25. 

2 The truth of history requires us to state, that not only was Charles 
strongly suspected at the time of having encouraged the rebellion, but that 
evidence exists calculated to leave the dark stigma uneffaced from his char- 
acter. It is certain that the rebels produced a commission, with the king's 
broad seal attached to it, in vindication of their atrocities; and it is equally 
certain that Charles granted commissions under the great seal, empowering 
the Irish leaders to take up arms in his behalf. {Reid's History of Presb. 
Church in Ireland, ii. 303.) It is stated, on what appears the strongest 
authority, that when the Marquis of Antrim pleaded for the restoration ot 
his estates in the reign of Charles II., the ground of his claim was, that 
Charles I. had given his consent and authority for what he had done, and 
that the letter was read before parliament, and produced a general silence. 
(Ca/am/s Life of Baxter, p. 143.) This is confirmed by further evidence in 
Bennet's Memorial of the Reformation, p. 196. See also "Declaration ot 
the Commons assembled in Parliament, Concerning the Rise and Progress 
of the Grand Rebellion in Ireland." London, 1643. 


swore they would not leave a Protestant alive in the kingdom. 
The scene of slaughter opened on the 23d of October, 1641, 
and continued without intermission for several months. The 
Protestants of Ulster were attacked with a savage ferocity 
unparalleled in the annals of civilization. No mercy was 
shown to sex or rank, age or infancy. The mother was 
reserved only to see her helpless children butchered before 
her eyes, and then to suffer the same fate. Some wretches 
were prevailed upon, by the promise of life, to become the 
executioners of their dearest relatives; and after having 
incurred this tremendous guilt, were executed in their turn. 
Others, after being tempted by the same promise to disown 
their faith and conform to the popish rites, were coolly told, 
that, lest they should relapse, it would be charity to send 
them immediately to heaven, and were forthwith put to 
death. In these tragical scenes the women, under the 
influence of religious frenzy, were as active as the men ; and 
mere children, hardly able to wield the knife, were urged by 
their parents to stain their little hands in blood. But time 
would fail us to recount the cruelties and indignities com- 
mitted on the unhappy Protestants. 1 Suffice it to add, that 
at the first outbreak of the rebellion, according to the lowest 
computation, forty thousand, while according to other 
accounts, currently believed at the time, no less than between 
two and three hundred thousand altogether, fell victims to 
the vengeance of Popery. 2 

1 The bare mention of these execrable atrocities is enough to make the 
ears tingle. Not to speak of the multitudes who perished in the field of 
battle and in dungeons, thousands were driven into the water, like so many 
beasts, and knocked on the head or shot if they attempted to swim for 
their lives; others were dragged through the water with ropes about their 
necks ; others buried alive ; others hung up by the arms, and gradually 
slashed to death, to see how many blows an Englishman would endure 
before he died ; women were ripped up— their children were thrown to the 
swine to be devoured before their eyes, or, being taken up by the heels, had 
their brains clashed out against trees; while others were found in the fields 
sucking the breasts of their murdered mothers, and without mercy buried 
alive. Multitudes were inclosed in houses, which being set on fire, they 
were miserably consumed in the flames, or cut to pieces on attempting to 
escape ! These fearful butcheries, accompanied with the most hellish blas- 
phemies and imprecations on the part of the murderers, and the most heart- 
rending shrieks and lamentations from their terrified victims, present a scene 
unparalleled in British history, and only next in horror to the massacre of 
St. Bartholomew in France. 

2 Sir John Temple's History of the Irish Rebellion ; Brodie's Hist, of the 
British limpire, hi. 109; Reid's Hist, of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, 


When the tidings of this massacre reached Scotland, 
Charles was in Edinburgh, endeavouring to conciliate the 
Scots, in the hope of obtaining their aid against the English 
parliament. With this view he sanctioned all their proceed- 
ings against Episcopacy, and even ratified the acts of the 
Glasgow Assembly — concessions for which he has been 
severely censured by some historians, and of which he him- 
self is said to have repented; and yet these very writers, 
while they allow that he was forced by circumstances into 
these concessions, and never meant to give them effect, are 
loud in their condemnation of the Scots, for not giving him 
credit for his good intentions, and for taking part with the 
English parliament in the subsequent struggles! But the 
charge is as absurd as it is disingenuous. For how could 
they expect the peaceable enjoyment of their own discipline, 
so long as Charles continued to wage war with his 
parliament — a war instigated by the counsels of the avowed 
enemies of the Presbyterians, and plainly designed to estab- 
lish arbitrary power? The duplicity of the king, and his 
attachment to Prelacy, were too well known to encourage 
them to place much reliance on professions which, made only 
in the hour of his need, would be too easily revoked in the 
event of his success. From the triumph of Charles in such 
a contest they had nothing to expect but revenge; their only 
hope, as Presbyterians and as patriots, lay in the success of 
the English parliament. 

This parliament, so well known in history by the name of 
the Long Parliament, has been loaded with such uniform and 
indiscriminate abuse, that it may surprise our readers to 
learn that, during the first years of its history, it consisted of 
independent gentlemen of the most unblemished reputation, 

i. 308-336. — Dr. Reid says, "It is vain to hope to discover the exact 
number of Protestant sufferers during the first or earliest stage of the rebel- 
lion. Suffice it to say, that the lowest probable computation presents an 
awful sacrifice of human life." YVe consider forty thousand a very moderate 
computation indeed, if not "the lowest probable," in estimating the number 
involved in a massacre which so many writers have calculated at hundreds 
of thousands, which almost depopulated the northern counties of Ireland, 
and which continued, with brief intermission, to rage for two years. Clar- 
endon, who was not likely to put the matter in the worst light for the 
Papists, tells us that "about forty or fifty thousand of the English Pro- 
testants were murdered before they suspected themselves to be in any 
danger;" and that "an incrcdibic number were destroyed." (C/ar. Hist. 
ii. 299.) 


and of whom Clarendon himself is obliged to say, "As to 
religion, they were all members of the Established Church, 
and almost to a man for Episcopal government. Though 
they were undevoted enough to the court, they had all ima- 
ginable duty to the king, and affection for the government 
established by law or ancient custom; and without doubt 
the majority of that body were persons of gravity and wisdom, 
who, being possessed of great and plentiful fortunes, had no 
mind to break the peace of the kingdom, or to make any 
considerable alterations of the government of the Church or 
state." 1 

It would be interesting to trace the steps by which the 
public mind of England was gradually prepared for the com- 
plete extirpation of the hierarchy. Neal ascribes it to the 
arrogance of the prelates, who, instead of being content, like 
their predecessors, with an acknowledgment of the lawfulness 
of their office, began to plead for its divine right; "and as 
the parliament increased in power, the Puritans stiffened in 
their demands, till all methods of accommodation were im- 
practicable." 2 But he conceals the fact, which could be 
easily proved from other writers, that the great body of the 
English Puritans, including under this term many of the Es- 
tablished clergy, had long been decidedly Presbyterian in their 
sentiments. At no period of our history was the subject of 
Church government so thoroughly discussed. It became 
the all-engrossing topic of the day; and it is computed that, 
on this controversy alone, there issued from the press, between 
1640 and 1660, no fewer than 30,000 pamphlets. The ques- 
tion, from its close connection with public affairs, soon 
became a national one; the trial of Archbishop Laud brought 
out sad disclosures; public feeling ran every day higher 
against the prelates; and at last the parliament, deeply sen- 
sible of the necessity of some reform in the English Church, 
summoned an Assembly of Divines to meet at Westminster 
on the 1 st of July, 1643, for the purpose of taking this sub- 
ject into their serious deliberation. To aid them in this ob- 
ject, they invited the General Assembly of the Scottish Church 
to send up some of their number as commissioners; and they 
resolved to sympathize with the Scots, by co-operating with 
them in the cause of liberty and reformation. 

1 Clarendon, i. 184. 2 Neal's History of the Puritans, ii. 409. 


Every step taken by the English parliament was viewed 
with intense interest in Scotland. It appears from the cor- 
respondence carried on during the treaty in 1640 and 1641, 
between the English and Scottish commissioners, hitherto un- 
published, that even at that early period the Scots contem- 
plated, and earnestly pleaded for, a uniformity in doctrine, 
worship, discipline, and government, between the two 
Churches of England and Scotland. Their primary motive 
in making this proposal was certainly to secure the peaceable 
enjoyment of their own form, which, they knew, could not 
be expected so long as the two churches continued so much 
divided. At a time when religion was such a governing 
principle both over rulers and subjects they held that "unity 
in religion" was the only effectual cure for the civil dissen- 
sions by which the country was rent asunder. But they had 
still nobler motives for such a uniformity. While they dis- 
claimed all intentions of dictating terms of union, they could 
not fail to see, and seeing, to avail themselves of the oppor- 
tunity of promoting, the interests of truth, and extending to 
their brethren in England the blessings of a purer worship 
and more scriptural form of polity. "We have not been so 
forgetful," they say, " of ourselves, who are the lesser, and of 
England, which is the greater kingdom, as to suffer any such 
presumptuous thoughts to enter into our minds. Yet charity 
is no presumption, and the common duty of charity bindeth 
all Christians at all times both to pray and profess their 
desire that all others were not only almost but altogether 
such as themselves, except their afflictions and distresses." 
"This unity of religion," they add, "shall make ministers to 
build the Church with both their hands, whereas now the 
one hand is holden out for opposition against the other party; 
and shall turn the many unpleasant labours of writing and 
reading of unprofitable controversies into treatises of mortifi- 
cation and studies of devotion. It is a thing so desirable, 
that all sound divines and politicians are for it; and as we 
conceive so pious a work to be worthy the best consideration, 
so we are earnest in recommending it to your lordships, that 
it may be brought before his majesty and the parliament as 
that which, without forcing of conscience, seemeth not only to 
be a possible but an easy work." They then proceed, with 
great modesty, to suggest a reformation in the English Church, 


1643] UNIFORMITY. 1 93 

concluding with a recommendation, that it "be peaceably 
governed by churchmen in assemblies; and the state, in par- 
liament and council, governed by civil men and not by 
churchmen; thus the work shall be better done; the means 
that uphold their unprofitable pomp may supply the wants 
of* many preaching ministers, and, without the smallest loss 
to the subjects, may be a great increase to his majesty's 
revenues; his majesty's authority shall be more deeply rooted 
in the united hearts, and more strongly guarded by the joint 
forces of his subjects; and his greatness shall be enlarged 
abroad by becoming the head of all the Protestants in Europe, 
to the greater terror of his enemies, and securing of greatness 
to his posterity and royal succession." 1 

Whatever may be thought of the sound policy of these 
sentiments, it must be allowed that the design was a noble 
one; that the plan was sublimely comprehensive, that the 
spirit in which it was proposed was truly Christian, enlight- 
ened, and catholic ; and that these are the last men who de- 
serve to be branded as traitors and rebels. Let us at least 
do them the tardy justice of admitting, that had their pious 
wishes been fulfilled, it is possible that our country might not 
have been seen, as it is at this day, inflamed with intestine 
discords, and emitting a thousand fiery particles of dissent, 
that threaten a universal conflagration. 

The English parliament, when these propositions were first 
made, were not prepared to adopt them throughout; but when, 
in August, 1642, the royal standard was raised at Nottingham, 
and the country involved in civil war, they began to see the 
necessity of acting on them, and to court an alliance with the 
Scots. And yet, deeply as our fathers sympathized with the 
proceedings of the parliament, it was not without a severe 
struggle, and not till every effort had been tried, and tried in 
vain, to effect a reconciliation, that they were compelled, as 
a last resource, to join with the parliament in maintaining the 
liberties of the country. "Necessity," said Henderson, in a 
speech to the English parliament, September, 1643, "neces- 
sity, which hath in it a kind of sovereignty, and is a law 
above all laws, and therefore is said to have no law, doth 
mightily press the Church and kingdom of Scotland at this 

1 Copies of letters and other documents relating to Scotland, 1640-41, 
MS., in my possession. 



lime, it is no small comfort to them that they have not 
been idle and at ease, but have used all good and lawful 
means, by supplications and remonstrances to his majesty, 
for quenching the combustion in this kingdom; and after all 
these, that they sent commissioners to his majesty, humbly to 
mediate for a reconcilement. But the offer of their humble 
services was rejected, from no other reason but that they had 
no warrant nor capacity for such a mediation; and that the 
intermixture of the government of the Church of England 
with the civil government of the kingdom was such a mystery 
as could not be understood by them." In these circumstances, 
his majesty having denied the Scots a parliament, they were 
compelled to call a convention of the estates, to deliberate 
on the perilous aspect of matters in the country; and com- 
missioners having been sent from the English parliament, 
their consultations issued in a Solemn League and Covenant 
between the three kingdoms, "as the only mean, after all others 
have been essayed, for the deliverance of England and 
Ireland out of the depths of affliction, preservation of the 
Church and kingdom of Scotland from the extremity of misery, 
and the safety of our native king and his kingdom from de- 
struction and desolation." 

The General Assembly which met in Edinburgh, August, 
1643, was rendered remarkable by the presence of the English 
commissioners, and the formation of this solemn league 
between England, Ireland, and Scotland. This Assembly 
met in the New Church aisle of St. Giles', which was then 
first fitted up for their reception, and in which, till within a 
few years ago, the Assembly continued to meet. In the pro- 
spect of the important discussions to come before them all 
eyes were again turned to Henderson, and he was a third 
time called to the moderator's chair. On the 7th of August 
the long-expected English commissioners, who came by sea, 
arrived in Edinburgh. Four of them, Sir William Armyn, 
Sir Harry Vane, Mr. Hatcher, and Mr. Darley, appeared for 
the parliament; and two ministers, Mr. Steven Marshall, a 
Presbyterian, and Mr. Philip Nye, an Independent, appeared 
for the Assembly of Divines. The arrival of these gentlemen 
at such a crisis excited a thrilling interest through the whole 
community, of which we, in present circumstances, can 
hardly form a conception. Trembling for their liberties, 

l6 43# ] GENERAL ASSEMBLY. 1 95 

which they conceived, and with too good reason, to be in- 
volved in the struggle now maintained in England; alarmed 
by the discovery of new popish plots, and by constant 
rumours of wars, massacres, and victories, they hailed the 
appearance of these strangers as the family of Noah did that 
of the dove with the olive branch, and fondly augured from 
it the cessation of the national deluge. The General 
Assembly, at that time the watchful sentinel of the liberties 
of the country, welcomed them with heartfelt enthusiasm, re- 
garding their visit as the omen of that religious as well as 
civil union with England for which they had so long thirsted 
and prayed. Henderson cautioned his brethren to conduct 
themselves, now that the eyes of strangers were upon them, 
with even more than their ordinary decorum; and a deputa- 
tion of ministers and elders was appointed to wait on the 
commissioners, and courteously to invite them to the 
Assembly. Yet such was their care to avoid even the appear- 
ance of introducing civil matters, that, while the Englishmen 
were cordially granted free access as spectators, they were 
courteously requested, in any transactions with them as com- 
missioners, to retire to a loft of the New Church adjoining 
the Assembly room, where the correspondence between them 
and the Assembly would be conducted. 

It was at first intended, by some at least of the English, 
that there should be merely a civil league between the two 
kingdoms, pledging themselves to mutual support against 
the common enemy; but through the influence and argu- 
ments of Henderson, in which he was supported by the 
whole Assembly, and powerfully aided by the critical cir- 
cumstances in which England was placed, it was agreed that 
there should also be a religious union, cemented by the 
three kingdoms entering into a solemn league and covenant. 
Henderson presented the draught of one which he had com- 
posed to a meeting of the three committees, from the parlia- 
ment of England, the Scottish Convention of Estates, and 
the General Assembly, which, after some slight alterations, 
they adopted. On the moderator producing it the effect 
was quite electrifying. " When the draught was read to the 
General Assembly," says Mr. Blair, who witnessed the scene, 
" our smoking desires for uniformity did break forth into a 
vehement flame, and it was so heartily embraced, and with 


such a torrent of affectionate expressions, as none but eye 
and ear witnesses can conceive. When the vote of some 
old ministers was asked, their joy was so great that tears did 
interrupt their expressions." 1 The covenant was received 
with the same cordiality by the Convention of Estates. 

In the month of September, 1643, the city of London 
witnessed a spectacle equally interesting, but to Englishmen 
much more novel and extraordinary. On the 25th of that 
month both houses of parliament, with the Assembly of 
Divines and the Scottish commissioners, met in St. Mar- 
garet's Church, Westminster. After divine service the So- 
lemn League was read article by article in the pulpit from a 
parchment roll, the whole assembly standing uncovered, 
and swearing to it with their hands lifted up to heaven. 
On this solemn occasion our countryman, Mr. Henderson, 
delivered an animated address, in which he warmly recom- 
mended the duty as pleasing to God, exemplified in other 
kingdoms and churches, and often accompanied with the 
most blessed fruits. " Had the pope at Rome the know- 
ledge of what is doing this day in England," he said in con- 
clusion, "and were this covenant written on the plaster of 
the wall over against him where he sitteth, Belshazzar-like, 
in his sacrilegious pomp, it would make his heart to tremble, 
his countenance to change, his head and mitre to shake, his 
joints to loose, and all his cardinals and prelates to be 
astonished. The Word of God is for it, as you have been 
now resolved, by the testimony of a reverend assembly of so 
many godly, learned, and great divines. In your own sense 
and experience you will find, that although, while you are 
assaulted with worldly cares and fears, your thoughts may 
somewhat trouble you; yet at other times, when, upon seek- 
ing God in private or public, as in the evening of a well- 
spent Sabbath, your disposition is more spiritual, and leaving 
the world behind you, you have found access unto God 
through Jesus Christ, the bent of your hearts will be strong- 
est to go through with this work. It is a good testimony 
that our designs and ways are agreeable to God, if we affect 
them most when our hearts are farthest from the world, and 
our temper is most spiritual and heavenly, and least carnal 
and earthly. As the Word of God, so the prayers of the 
1 .Memoirs of the Life of Blair, p. 98. 


people of God in all the reformed churches are for us and 
on our side. // were more terrible than an army, to hear that 
there were any fervent supplications to God against us. Blas- 
phemies, curses, and horrid imprecations there be, proceed- 
ing from another spirit, and that is all." 1 

The Solemn League having been thus adopted by the 
English parliament, was sent back to Edinburgh, where it 
was ordained by the commission of the Church and the 
Committee of Estates to be sworn and subscribed throughout 
the kingdom — the former enjoining it under ecclesiastical 
censures, and the latter under pain of being punished as 
enemies to his majesty's honour and the peace of these 

It may be proper here to say a few words respecting a 
deed which exercised such an important influence on the 
destinies of the Church and the nation. In this covenant 
our fathers bound themselves and their posterity, first, to 
endeavour the preservation of the reformed religion in the 
Church of Scotland, the reformation of religion in England 
and Ireland, " according to the Word of God and the ex- 
ample of the best reformed churches," and the bringing of 
the three churches to the nearest possible conjunction and 
uniformity in religion ; secondly, to the extirpation of Popery 
and Prelacy; thirdly, to the preservation of the rights of 
parliament, of the liberties of the kingdoms, and of his 
majesty's person and authority; and, lastly, they pledge 
themselves to personal reformation, and a holy life. Our 
limits prevent us from entering on a lengthened vindication 
of this covenant from the numerous objections that have 
been brought against it. It is hardly necessary to expose 
the vulgar prejudice, which, taking advantage of a term now 
become obnoxious, would identify the extirpation of Popery 
and Prelacy with the extirpation of the persons of Papists 
and Prelatists. The only points of objection worthy of 
notice are the mixture of things sacred and civil in the same 
bond, and the enjoining of it under civil penalties. The 
same answer may suffice for both, and is to be found in the 
extraordinary circumstances in which our ancestors were 

1 Two speeches delivered before the subscribing of the Covenant, the 25th 
of September, at St. Margaret's, in Westminster — the one by Mr. Philip 
Nye, the other by Mr. Alexander Henderson. 1643. 


placed. A combined attack having been made upon their 
civil rights and their religious liberties, it became warrant- 
able, and even necessary, to unite both in their means of 
defence. So far as it can be shown that in any case they 
resorted to violence to enforce the covenant, we do not 
vindicate them; but indeed it cannot be proved that it was 
forced upon any, or that civil injury was incurred by any for 
simply refusing it. The truth is, that the great body of the 
people of all ranks entered with heart and soul into the 
solemn pledge; and the acts of the Church and the state 
enjoining it, if candidly interpreted and compared with the 
commentary of their practice, will be found to have been 
nothing more than a judicial sanction of the measure, with 
a formal intimation that the Church would hold its oppo- 
nents as enemies to religion, and that the state would regard 
them as enemies to the liberties of the country. But what- 
ever errors or excesses may have characterized the mode in 
which it was managed by men, the work itself may neverthe- 
less have been of God; and if the matter of that covenant 
was agreeable to the divine will, if the nation voluntarily 
entered into this solemn engagement with the Lord of hosts, 
it will not be easy to show that either lapse of time or change 
of circumstances could dissolve the obligation. Nations as 
such, in the eye of reason as well as Scripture, possess a 
permanent identity in all the stages of their history, and are, 
equally with individuals, the subjects of God's moral govern- 
ment. Since, therefore, the three kingdoms were brought 
in the good providence of God to swear allegiance to him, 
as well as amity to each other, they could not draw back 
without perjury; and the serious conclusion is, that in all 
their subsequent departures from the reformation thus so 
solemnly covenanted, their sinful conduct is aggravated by 
the guilt of having broken their vows to the most high God. 1 
It has been repeatedly asserted that the Independent party 
in the English parliament outwitted our Scottish divines, by 
getting the clause inserted in the covenant which binds them 
to reform the Church of England " according to the Word of 
God:" by which, it is said, they tacitly understood Independ- 
ency, while the Scots understood it of their beloved Presbytery. 
We have already seen that, if there was any address shown in 
1 Sermons on Unity of the Church, by Dr. M'Crie, Appendix. 


the concoction of the league, the praise is due to the Scots, 
who succeeded in getting more than they ever expected 
from the English, when they prevailed on them to make it a 
religious as well as civil bond. They certainly understood 
Presbytery to be the system most agreeable to the Word of 
God, and to the example of the best reformed churches; 
but it is quite a mistake to suppose that they were " taken 
in " by Sir Harry Vane, or artfully led to expect the con- 
formity of England as the bribe for their assistance. The 
truth is, our ancestors entered into this league with England 
rather in the hope, and with the desire, that they might be 
brought into a nearer conformity with the Presbyterian dis- 
cipline, than with any sanguine expectation of seeing this 
accomplished. They never supposed that England would 
submit to their polity without some alteration suited to their 
circumstances, and accordingly they joined with them in 
constructing a new Confession and Directory. "We are 
not to conceive," says Henderson in a letter dated 1642, 
" that they will embrace our form. A new form must be 
set down for us all. And although we should never come 
to this unity in religion and uniformity of worship, yet my 
desire is to see what form England shall pitch upon before 
we publish ours." 1 In short, nothing is more apparent from 
the whole of their correspondence, than that they went up 
to the Westminster Assembly with very slender hopes of 
being able to prevail on the English to submit to Presby- 
tery; and the result filled their hearts with unfeigned aston- 
ishment, as well as gratitude to that God whose hand they 
constantly recognized in all their proceedings. " The seven 
years of ensuing providence," says Henderson, in the dedi- 
cation of a sermon preached in 1644, "may carry us as far 
beyond the present intentions, whether of the enemies of 
religion or our own, as the seven years past have done be- 
yond our former intentions and theirs. The pulling down of 
Popery in the Christian world, and the pulling down of Pre- 
lacy in Britain, are equally feasible to the Almighty, who 
delighteth to turn our difficulties and impossibilities into the 
glorious demonstrations of his divine power, and who putteth 
motions into the hearts of men, which they turn into peti- 
tions and endeavours, and God, by his power, bringeth forth 

1 Baillie's Letters, MS., ii. 305. 


into reality and action: the conception, birth, and perfection 
is all from himself." 

But it is time to take some notice of the labours of 
our Scottish ministers in the Westminster Assembly. This 
famous Assembly was convened, as we have seen, by the 
parliament on the ist July, 1643. ^ was t0 consist of 
120 divines, with 30 lay assessors, of whom 10 were lords 
and 20 were commoners. The divines were, for the most 
part, clergymen of the Church of England, selected not for 
their peculiar views on the point of church government, but 
for their well-known learning, piety, and abilities. Some of 
them were keen advocates of Prelacy, but these, so soon as 
they saw how matters were likely to be carried, retired from 
the Assembly. A convocation of more grave, judicious, 
and learned divines was never, perhaps, collected in Chris- 
tendom. Their theological writings, which still continue to 
be standard works, amply confirm this commendation: and, 
above all, the "Westminster Standards," as Presbyterians 
have denominated the Confession of Faith, the Larger and 
Shorter Catechisms, and other formularies of the Church of 
Scotland, which were the result of their labours, would be 
alone sufficient to entitle their memory to the veneration 
and respect of all who love the truth. 

The parliament of England having solicited the General 
Assembly to send up some of their number as commissioners, 
four ministers were appointed — Alexander Henderson, 
Samuel Rutherford, Robert Baillie, and George Gillespie. 
With these were associated the following elders : the Earl of 
Cassilis, Lord Maitland, and Sir Archibald Johnston of War- 
riston. Our worthy commissioners reached London in No- 
vember, 1643, and on being introduced to the Assembly at 
Westminster, were cordially welcomed by a speech from Dr. 
Twisse, their learned and excellent prolocutor. The follow- 
ing description of the appearance of the Assembly, as it pre- 
sented itself to our commissioners, from the pen of Mr. 
Baillie, is given in his usual homely and graphic style: "The 
like of that Assembly I did never see, and, as we hear say, 
the like was never in England, nor anywhere is shortly like 
to be. Here no mortal man may enter to see or hear, let be 
to sit, without an order in writ from both houses of parlia- 
ment. They did sit in Henry the Seventh's Chapel, in the 


place of the convocation; but since the weather grew cold, 
they did go to the Jerusalem Chamber, a fair room in the 
Abbey of Westminster, about the bounds of the college fore- 
hall, but wider. At the upmost end there is a chair set on 
a frame, a foot from the earth, for the Mr. Prolocutor, Dr. 
Twisse. Before it, on the ground, stand two chairs for the 
two Mr. Assessors, Dr. Burgess, and Air. White. Before 
these two chairs, through the length of the room, stands a 
table, at which sit the two scribes, Mr. Byfield and Mr. Ro- 
borough. The house is all well hung, and has a good fire, 
which is some dainties at London. Foranent the table, upon 
the prolocutor's right hand, there are three or four ranks of 
forms; on the lowest we five do sit; upon the others, at our 
backs, the members of parliament deputed to the Assembly. 
On the forms foranent us, on the prolocutor's left hand, are 
four or five stages of forms, ranged round the room, where- 
upon their divines sit as they please. W r e meet every day of 
the week but Saturday. We sit commonly from nine to one 
or two afternoon. The prolocutor, at the beginning and end, 
has a short prayer. Ordinarily there will be present above 
threescore of their divines. After the prayer, the scribe 
reads the proposition and Scriptures, whereupon the Assem- 
bly debates in a most grave and orderly way." 1 

The Scottish commissioners soon found ample employment. 
After the labours of the day in the Assembly, they were en- 
gaged in committees, or in writing letters and pamphlets, till 
the midnight chimes at Westminster rang them to bed. 
They had no conception that they would have been so long 
detained in London, for the Assembly continued to sit, with 
little intermission, for nearly five years. The chief burden 
of the debates fell upon our divines, who were harassed by 
them night and day. Many an anxious look did they cast 
towards home; and often did they plead that they might be 
allowed to return to their quiet duties in their own parishes; 
but duty to the Church and nation forbade it. "Many a 
perplexed night have we of it," says Baillie; "if our neigh- 
bours at Edinburgh tasted the sauce wherein we dip our ven- 
ison, their teeth would not water so fast to be here as some 
of them do." 

The first subject that came before the Assembly, and 
1 Baillie's Letters and Journals, ii. 107, 108. 


which occupied the greater part of their time, was the thorny 
question of Church government. Our Scots ministers soon 
found, to their high satisfaction, that the great body of the 
Assembly was favourably disposed to the Presbyterian disci- 
pline. And had the matter been left to the mere force of 
numbers, little time would have sufficed to decide it. Out 
of an Assembly of seventy or eighty members, there were 
only five Independents and one or two Erastians. In this 
insignificant minority, however, there were two or three pos- 
sessed of considerable talents for public speaking and ingen- 
uity in debate, and they continued to take up the Assembly's 
time, by pertinaciously disputing every point, and protesting 
against every decision. The Assembly, anxious for unanim- 
ity, bore all this with astonishing patience. The Indepen- 
dents occupied them no less than three weeks in debating the 
point of sitting at a communion table. "The unhappy Inde- 
pendents," says Baillie, ''would mangle that sacrament. No 
catechizing nor preparation before; no thanksgiving after; no 
sacramental doctrine or chapters in the day of celebration; 
no coming up to any table, but a carrying of the elements to 
all in their seats athort the church : yet all this, with God's 
help, w r e have carried over them to our practice. We must 
dispute every inch of ground. Great need had we of the 
prayers of all God's people." This obstinacy was the less 
justifiable in the Independents, as the Scottish ministers had 
agreed to drop several of their ancient practices in order to 
please them. 

Many days were spent on the question of ruling elders. 
But the most important and lengthened debate in this Assem- 
bly was regarding the divine right of presbyterial government. 
The question was, Whether many congregations may, and by 
divine institution ought, to be under one presbyterial govern- 
ment? After a debate which occupied thirty clays, the divine 
right of Presbytery was carried by an overwhelming majority. 
Five Independents 1 entered their dissent, and, as is usual 
with the losing party, complained of unfair usage. But 
never was the charge made with less feasibility. The length 
of time during which the discussion was protracted shows 
that ample opportunity had been given them to bring forward 

1 The names of "the dissenting brethren" were Messrs. Goodwin, Nye, 
Simpson, Burroughs, and Bridge. 


their objections; and the debate, which was afterwards pub- 
lished at length, proves how ably and fairly they had been 
met. It is remarkable that, notwithstanding the earnest de- 
sires of the Assembly, and their own promises, the Independ- 
ents, though they were constantly finding fault with the pres- 
byterial form, would never present any model of their own in 
its place. 1 

In these debates our countrymen took an active and im- 
portant share. To the masterly management and sagacious 
counsels of Henderson, the Assembly owed in a great mea- 
sure the happy unanimity which prevailed among them. To 
the services of George Gillespie, who was then in the prime 
of life, his colleague, Mr. Baillie, bears repeated testimony. 
"None in all the Assembly did reason more pertinently than 
Mr. Gillespie; he is an excellent youth; my heart blesses God 
in his behalf. I admire his gifts, and bless God, as for all 
my colleagues, so for him in particular, as equal in these to the 
first in the Assembly." On arriving in London, Gillespie went 
straight to the Assembly, and stood behind the crowd, while 
Goodwin was pleading the cause of Independency. He was 
observed by Henderson, who mentioned his arrival to the 
prolocutor; and Gillespie was requested to come forward and 
reply. In vain he pleaded to be excused — he was obliged 
to come forward, making his way through the crowd in his 
travelling boots; and, deeply blushing, he commenced a 
speech which occupied an hour and a half, and ended in a 
triumphant refutation of the Independent's logic. On another 
occasion, when the Parliament and Assembly had met for con- 
ference on the much-contested question of church order, an 
elaborate discourse was delivered by the learned Selden in 
favour of Erastianism, which subjects the church to the state 
in the administration of discipline — a doctrine highly pleasing 
to the parliament at that time. Mr. Gillespie, who appeared 
busily engaged in taking notes of the speech, was requested 
by his brethren, who well knew his talents, to stand up and 
answer it. Heat first modestly refused. "Rise, George," 

1 Baillie's Letters, ii. 27, 33, 172, &c. Reasons presented by the Dissent- 
ing Brethren (Independents) against Presbyterial Government, 1648. Answer 
of the Assembly of Divines to the Reasons, &c. , 1648. Papers for Accom- 
modation, 1644, printed 1648. Reasons by the Dissenting Brethren for not 
giving in a Model of their Way. Answer of the Assembly to said Reasons, 
1645. Answer to the Apologetical Narration, &c. 



said one of his friends; "rise up and defend the right of the 
Lord Jesus Christ to govern, by his own laws, the church 
which he has purchased with his blood." He complied, and, 
after giving a summary of the arguments of his antagonist, he 
confuted them, to the admiration of all present. Selden 
himself is said to have observed, in astonishment, "This 
young man, by his single speech, has swept away the learning 
and labour of my life." On looking at Gillespie's notes, it 
was found that he had written nothing but u Da I nam, 
Domine — Lord, give light," and similar brief petitions for 
divine direction. 1 

The same modest and devout spirit characterized his last 
moments. Mr. Gillespie died in 1648, in his thirty-sixth 
year. During his last sickness he enjoyed little sensible 
assurance, but was strong in " the faith of adherence," cling- 
ing to the promises of God. When asked if he felt comfort, 
he replied, "No; but though the Lord has not allowed me 
comfort, I shall yet believe that ' my Beloved is mine, and I 
am his.'" "Brother," said one of the ministers who stood 
around his bed, "you are taken away from evil times; what 
advice have you to give to us who are left behind?" He 
replied, that he had little experience in the ministry, having 
been only nine years a minister; "but," he added, "I have 
this to say, that I have got infinitely more in my work from 
prayer than from study, and know much more help from the 
assistance of the Spirit than from books." "And yet it is 
well known," says Wodrow, "that he was an indefatigable 
student." 2 

Having finished the discussion on government and the 
Directory for Worship, the Confession of Faith and the 
Catechisms next occupied the attention of the Assembly. 
These, however, though they cost much labour, excited less 
controversy. The first draught of the Confession was pre- 
pared chiefly by our Scots commissioners, but it is hardly 
possible now to state what share individuals had in it. Jt 
is generally believed that the Shorter Catechism was drawn 
up by Dr. Arrowsmith. The following character of this dis- 
tinguished man is given by one who appears to have been 
well acquainted with him: "He was a burning and a shin- 
ing light, who, by his indefatigable study of the sublime 
1 Wodrow's Analecta, Adv. Lib. 2 Ibid. 


mysteries of the gospel, spent himself to the utmost to expli- 
cate the darkest places of Scripture. He was a holy and 
learned divine; firm and zealous in his attachment to the 
cause of Christ, from which no worldly allurements would 
shake his faith or move his confidence. He was a man of 
a thousand. His soul aspired after more than his weak and 
sickly body was able to perform." 1 

AVhen the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms were 
agreed to, the Scottish commissioners took leave of the 
Westminster Assembly, and, after an absence of about four 
years, returned to Scotland, and gave an account of their 
proceedings to the General Assembly which met in August, 
1647. This Assembly, of which Mr. Robert Douglas was 
moderator, is memorable in our history for having received 
the Westminster Confession of Faith as a part of the uni- 
formity of religion to which the three kingdoms had become 
bound in the Solemn League. The only reservation which 
they made in approving of this Confession, was in regard to 
the authority of the magistrate in calling assemblies, ascribed 
to him in the 31st. chapter, which they understood "only 
of churches not settled in point of government;" asserting 
their freedom " to assemble together synodically, as well pro 
re nata as at the ordinary times, upon delegation from the 
churches, by the intrinsical power received from Christ, as 
often as it is necessary for the good of the Church so to 
assemble." This explanation was necessary, in consequence 
of the Erastian principles which had now begun to prevail 
in the English parliament, and to hinder them from settling 
the discipline of the Church. Whatever construction might 
be put upon those parts of the Confession by the rulers, the 
Assembly thus declared the sense in which they "under- 
stood " them. This act still remains in force in the Scottish 
Church, and is prefixed to all our copies of the Confession — 
a standing memorial of the jealousy with which the Church 
of Scotland watched over her spiritual independence as a 
Church of Christ. 2 We may here state, once for all, that 

1 Brook's Lives of the Puritans, iii. 317. Baillie informs us that Dr. 
Arrowsmith was "a man with a glass eye, in place of that which was put 
out by an arrow; a learned divine, on whom the Assembly put the writing 
against the Antinomians. " (Vol. i. 414.) 

2 The famous Hundred and Eleven Propositions, drawn up by order of 
the General Assembly in 1645, in which the respective powers about religious 


the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, Propositions for Church 
Government, and the Directory for Public Worship, which 
had been drawn up by the Westminster Assembly, in con- 
junction with the commissioners from the Church of Scot- 
land, were also received, approved, and ratified by the 
General Assembly, in several acts relating to them, as 
"parts of the covenanted uniformity." These acts of ap- 
probation by the Church were afterwards ratified by the 
estates in parliament; and thus, so far as Scotland was 
concerned, the stipulations of the Solemn League were cor- 
dially and honourably fulfilled. 1 

matters belonging to magistrates and ministers are defined with admirable 
clearness and precision, must be studied in order to understand those paits 
of the Confession of Faith which refer to this subject. 

1 What follows after this in the original edition of the Sketches, referring 
to the subject of toleration and sectarianism in England, has been omitted 
here, having been more fully treated by the author in his Annals of English 


1643— 1660. 

Montrose and the Covenanters — Charles I. comes to the Scots army — 
His discussion with Alexander Henderson — Death of Henderson — Dis- 
posal of the king's person — Duke of Hamilton 's engagement — Execution 
of Charles I.— State of religion in Scotland — Abolition of patronage — 
Negotiations with Charles II. — His coronation — Resolutioners and 
Protesters — Cromwell and the English army in Scotland — Anecdotes of 
Blair, Rutherford, and Douglas. 

While the civil war was raging in England, the state of 
Scotland, especially in the year 1645, was most deplorable. 
The kingdom was involved in the calamities of war, famine, 
and pestilence. It is well known that the passions of men 
are never more inflamed, never wreak themselves in deeds 
of greater cruelty, than during a civil war; and of all civil 
wars, those in which religion is concerned are the most 
bitter and inexorable. But in Scotland, besides these ele- 
ments of discord, the feudal antipathies of the rival chief- 
tains, who held sway over different parts of the country, 
contributed greatly to embitter the strife, and led to nume- 
rous atrocities, the bare recital of which makes the heart 
thrill with horror, while it should inspire us with gratitude to 
God that our lot has been cast in happier days. The per- 
son to whom Scotland owed a large share of her sufferings at 
this time, was the Marquis of Montrose, who had now raised 
the royal standard, and, at the head of a rude and savage 
band of " Highland kernes and Irish runnagates," was spread- 
ing devastation over the country. The close connection in 
which this nobleman once stood to the Covenanters, and 
the fierce hostility which he subsequently displayed against 
them, demand a brief notice of his character and history. 

At the commencement of the contests between the court 


and the Covenanters, we find Montrose among the keenest 
partizans of the covenant. He was a member of the famous 
Glasgow Assembly of 1638; he was among the first to take 
up arms, and having been sent to the north, as we have 
seen, without any orders to that effect, he forced the authori- 
ties of Aberdeen to take the covenant. When the Scottish 
army invaded England, the lot of his regiment being first to 
cross the Tweed, he was the foremost person to plunge into 
the river, which he did most courageously, to the admira- 
tion of all. Soon after this exploit, however, having been 
admitted to an interview with the king, he began to show a 
disposition to desert to the Royalists. Naturally haughty, 
jealous, and conceited— anxious to distinguish himself, and 
impatient of all rivalship, superiority, or control — it is sup- 
posed, on authority which has never yet been disproved, 
that he was induced to change sides from seeing Argyll pre- 
ferred before him in the council, and General Leslie in the 
field. In 1640, he was detected in a clandestine corres- 
pondence with the king at a very critical conjuncture; but 
having craved pardon for the offence, he was generously for- 
given. In the following year he was accused of complicity 
in a plot to assassinate the Earls of Argyll and Hamilton, 
generally known by the name of The Incident, which is still 
involved in considerable mystery. In 1643 ne threw off the 
mask, openly joined the king's party, and raised an army for 
the purpose of ruining the cause which he had so solemnly 
pledged himself to maintain. 

The character of Montrose, as might be expected from 
the prominent part which he took in defence of the king, 
is variously estimated by historians, according to their poli- 
tical leanings and predilections. In the eyes of the admirers 
of Charles and arbitrary power, who are animated by any- 
thing but a charitable feeling towards the Covenanters, 
Montrose appears in a character little inferior to that of the 
most illustrious heroes of antiquity — invested with all the 
dazzling interest of romance — "a high-spirited gentleman, 
accomplished in mind and body; his heart overflowing with 
lofty and generous sentiments." And they dwell with rap- 
ture on the splendid victories which he achieved over his 
countrymen, while they bewail his untimely fate as that of a 
martyr, and can hardly find epithets sufficiently strong to 


express their detestation of the "bigots and barbarians" by 

whom it was inflicted. By others, again, he is represented 
as a mean-spirited, vindictive, and ruthless bravado — as the 
blackest criminal, destitute of either public or private prin- 
ciple — the chief of a lawless banditti committing murder and 
devastation in die spirit of cold-blooded, indiscriminate, un- 
manly vengeance; and justly meriting, on these accounts, 
the ignominious end to which he was brought. It is ex- 
tremely difficult, in drawing the character and tracing the 
history of such a man as Montrose, to avoid extremes; and 
that both of these pictures are extremes can hardly be 
denied. Mindful of the ancient adage, that " no man ever 
became most depraved all at once," we are unwilling to be- 
lieve that this nobleman, when he first took up arms in the 
cause of Charles, contemplated the atrocities into which he 
was afterwards led, by placing himself at the head of a bar- 
barous and disgusting horde, who had no feelings in common 
with his countrymen, and whose sole object in following him 
was pillage and plunder; and he may have persuaded him- 
self that, in perpetrating these atrocities, he was actuated by 
a pure regard for the interests of his sovereign. But it is 
vain to deny, and indeed impossible to explain his conduct, 
without admitting that there were mingled with this romantic 
and mistaken feeling, motives of private animosity against 
Argyll and the other chieftains of the covenant; and that, 
having forfeited the forgiveness, and roused the resentment 
of the nation, by imbruing his hands so deeply in the blood 
of his countrymen, he became equally reckless and daring — 
determined, apparently, to elevate himself on the ruins of 
his country, and gain the darling object of his heart, though 
he should convert Scotland into a field of slaughter and 
desolation. His humanity and discretion while acting under 
the banner of the covenant, were such as to elicit the warm 
commendations of Baillie and his party, who dreaded no- 
thing so much as tarnishing the honour of their victories 
with deeds of needless severity. To what extent his char- 
acter may have been altered by becoming a renegade from 
his religion and a traitor to his country, we shall not say; 
but the change which marked his conduct may be estimated 
from the following brief recital of his subsequent career. 
The regular troops of Scotland being then engaged under 



General Leslie in England, Montrose suddenly appeared in 
Perthshire, in September, 1644, at the head of an army com- 
posed of Highlanders and wild Irishmen, most of the latter 
of whom had been engaged in the bloody scenes of the 
Irish massacre, and he gained an easy victory at Tibber- 
muir over the raw and undisciplined recruits who were hastily 
called out against him. Having made himself master of 
Perth, he advanced northward to Aberdeen, flushed with suc- 
cess. Here, also, the troops of the Covenanters, unprepared 
for such treachery, were taken by surprise ; and after a brave 
resistance of two hours, were compelled to retreat. A drum- 
mer, who had accompanied a commissioner sent to summon 
the town to surrender, having got drunk, and been unhappily 
killed on his return, Montrose, irritated by their refusal to sub- 
mit, made this incident a pretext for indiscriminate slaughter, 
and gave the inhuman "charge to his men to kill, and pardon 
none." 1 Orders so congenial to the savage dispositions of 
his soldiery were promptly fulfilled to the letter. The scene 
which followed is given in the homely language of Spalding, 
a contemporary, and a townsman of Aberdeen, whose ac- 
count being that of a stanch Loyalist and an admirer of 
Montrose, cannot for a moment be suspected of exaggera- 
tion: "The livetennand (Montrose) followis the chase in to 
Abirdene, his men hewing and cutting down all manner of 
man they could overtak within the toune, upon the streits, 
or in their houses, and round about the toun as our men 
wes fleeing, with brode swords, but (without) mercy or re- 
meid. Thir cruell Irishis, seeing a man weill cled, would 
first tyr him (that is, strip him), and save the clothes on- 
spoyled, and syne kill the man. Montrois followis the chase 
in to Abirdene, leaving the body of his army standing close 
unbroken till his returne, except such Irishis as faucht the 
field. He had promesit to them the plundering of the toun 
for their good service. Alwaies (yet) the livetennand (Mon- 
trose) stayit not, bot returnit bak fra Abirdene to the camp 
this samen Frydday at nicht, leaving the Irishis killing, rob- 
bing, and plundering of this toune at their plesour. And 
nothing heard bot pitiful houling, crying, weeping, murning, 
through all the streitts. Thus thir Irishis continewit Fryd- 
day, Satterday, Sonday, Mononday." The conduct of these 

1 Spalding's Hist, of the Troubles, ii. 264, Bannatyne edit 


monsters to the unhappy women whom they found in the 
town cannot be rehearsed. But to complete the picture, 
the same historian (too faithful to be quoted in this part of 
his narrative by the panegyrists of Montrose) adds, " It is 
lamentable to hear how thir Irishis, who had gotten the spoyl 
of the town, did abuse the same. The men that they killed 
they would not suffer to be bureit, bot tirrit them of their 
clothes, syne left their nakit bodies lying above the ground. 
The wyf durst not cry nor weep at her husband's slauchter 
befoir her eyes, nor the mother for the son, nor the dochter 
for the father; which, if thay war heard (doing), then war 
thay presently slayne also." 1 

This horrible scene of carnage, lust, and rapine, was per- 
petrated in the presence, under the authority, and by the ex- 
press orders, of "the gallant Montrose," who was lodged in 
the town, and kept the main body of his troops in the neigh- 
bourhood, that his Irish followers might revel at pleasure, 
and reap the full reward he had promised them "for their 
good service," and the next day he marched off with the rest 
of his army, leaving the city at the mercy of the inhuman 
instruments of his vengeance. And yet this reckless and in- 
fatuated man could so far forget himself as to declare, before 
his execution, that he "did all that lay in him to keep back 
his soldiers from spoiling the country; and for bloodshed, if 
it could have been thereby prevented, he would rather it had 
all come out of his own veins." If the remembrance of his 
former behaviour, in forcing the inhabitants of this town to 
embrace the covenant, could make no impression on his sense 
of shame, we might have thought that their well-known par- 
tiality to the cause of Charles might have recommended them 
to his mercy; and the army of the Covenanters, by whom 
alone resistance had been made, having fled, his conduct in 
giving up the unoffending and unarmed to pillage and mas- 
sacre is deprived even of the feeble defence of his taking re- 
prisals upon the enemies of the king. But next to the guilt 
of being accessory to such atrocious proceedings, which have 
at least the palliation of being done in civil war, is that of 
attempting to vindicate them ; and when we hear Dr. Wishart, 
the panegyrist of Montrose, coolly describing the scene, by 
telling us that "he entered the city and allowed his men 
1 Spalding's Hist, of the Troubles, vol. i., Bannatyne edit. 


two days to refresh themselves;" and a later historian, who 

surveys it in the nineteenth century, callously declaring that 
Montrose "stands as completely exonerated as any general 
under whose command blood ever flowed or misery followed," 1 
we are almost tempted to say that his conduct, bad as it 
was, was not so inexcusable as the spirit which dictated such 

For four days did this monstrous cruelty continue, and it 
ceased only then, because the approach of Argyll obliged 
the rebels to evacuate the town. As Montrose was not in a 
situation to cope with Argyll, he retreated northward, and 
having gained fresh adherents, he penetrated, in the midst 
of winter, into Argyllshire, and, in the absence of its chief, 
overran that district with a vindictive barbarity of which only 
the ferocious Irish of that age and the savages of the moun- 
tains could have been found capable. The houses and the 
corn were burned, the cattle destroyed, and all the males fit 
to bear arms who fell into their hands massacred in cold 
blood. 2 Argyll, resenting this invasion as a personal wrong, 
hastened to the scene; but his soldiers, being mostly raw 
recruits from the Lowlands, were easily routed by Montrose 
at Inverlochy. The conduct of Argyll on this occasion, in 
taking to his boat on the lake instead of leading his men, 
has given occasion to his enemies to reproach him with pu- 
sillanimity. Baillie vindicates him from this, by informing us 
that, "having a hurt in his arm and face, gotten by a casual 
fall from his horse, whereby he was disabled to use either 
sword or pistol, he was compelled by his friends to go aboard 
his barge." Be this as it may, it should be remembered that 
Argyll was a senator, not a soldier; he never professed to 
excel in that martial daring which, in the eyes of some men, 
is deemed almost sufficient to atone for the absence of every 
moral and religious qualification. His firmness as a patriot, 
his fidelity to his country at this awful crisis, and the services 
he rendered to the cause of the covenant by the wisdom ot 
his counsels and the energy of his measures, exposed him to 
the slanders of the cavalier party, who, while they ridiculed 
his religious principles, which they were incapable of appre- 
ciating, were too glad of an occasion to exaggerate his defi- 

1 Napier's Montrose and the Covenanters. 

3 Brodie's Hist, of the British Empire, iii. 534; Spalding's Troubles, &C. 


ciency in point of mere animal courage — a quality in which 
it was their chief glory to excel. These slanders, transmitted 
by successive historians, continue to be repeated to the pre- 
sent day; and the memory of this nobleman lies under a 
cloud, which is only beginning to clear away, as the princi- 
ples for which he contended are beginning to be better 

Meanwhile the troubles of the country continued to 
increase. Almost every man who could bear arms having 
been called to serve in the wars, agricultural operations were 
suspended, and the consequence was, that famine, and its 
general attendant, pestilence, soon made their appearance. 
It might truly have been said, in the language of the prophet, 
"the sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine with- 
in; he that is in the field shall die with the sword, and he that is 
in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him." 1 The 
plague, which spread quickly through the southern parts of 
the country, had slain its thousands. The greatest alarm pre- 
vailed in consequence of the excesses of Montrose, whose 
hands were by this time deeply imbrued in the blood of his 
countrymen; and who, elated by his successes, conceived 
himself already master of the whole kingdom. "Only give 
me leave," wrote this vain-glorious man to the king, "after I 
have reduced this country to your majesty's obedience, and 
conquered from Dan to Beersheba, to say to your majesty 
then, as David's general did to his master, 'Come thou thy- 
self, lest this country be called by my name.'" 2 The savages, 
under the conduct of this leader, and of one Alaster Mac- 
donald, a popish outlaw, exercised everywhere the most 
" horrid and unheard-of cruelties," so that the inhabitants fled 
in all directions at the slightest notice of their approach; and 
nothing was heard but the cries of women and children, 
wailing over the loss of husbands, fathers, and brothers. 

In these circumstances, the country may be said to have 
been saved from absolute ruin by the firmness of the Scottish 

1 Ezek. vii. 15. 

2 The letter in which this bravado occurs was found among 'Montrose's 
papers after his defeat at Philiphaugh {Burnet's Hist. i. 52). Wclwood 
states that this letter "had as ill effects as the worst of King Charles' ene- 
mies could have wished, for it dashed out in a moment all the impressions 
his best friends had been making upon him for a considerable time, towards 


Church. At an extraordinary meeting held in February, 1645, 
the General Assembly addressed a spirited remonstrance to 
the Scottish parliament, urging them to execute exemplary 
punishment on the authors and abettors of the civil war. 
They also addressed "a solemn and seasonable warning" to 
all classes, and to the armies both in England and Scotland, 
pointing out the various sins of which they had been guilty, 
and which they viewed as the causes of God's wrath against 
the land, and urging them to the duties of fasting, repentance, 
and prayer. In this paper, after having described the pre- 
vailing miseries, sins, and dangers of the country, they say: 
" Unless men will blot out of their hearts the love of religion 
and the cause of God, and cast off all care of their country, 
laws, liberties, and estates, yea, all natural affection of them- 
selves, their wives, children, and friends, and whatsoever is 
dearest to them under the sun, they must now or never appear 
actively, each one stretching himself to, yea, beyond his power. 
It is no time to dally, or go about the business by halves. If 
we have been so forward to assist our neighbour kingdoms, 
shall we neglect to defend our own? or shall the enemies of 
God be more active against his cause than his people for it? 
God forbid. If the work, being so far carried on, shall now 
miscarry and fail in our hands, our own consciences shall 
condemn us, and posterity shall curse us; but if we stand 
stoutly and stedfastly to it, all generations shall call us blessed." 
The effect of these exhortations, which were echoed through 
all the pulpits of the land, was highly encouraging. "The 
Covenanters," as one observes, "betook themselves to their 
old shift of fasting and prayer." The minds of the people, 
instead of yielding to despair, were roused to more vigorous 
exertion. Shortly afterwards, the country was delivered from 
its fears by the defeat of the royal forces at Naseby in England; 
and this permitting the return of the regular troops under 
lieutenant-general David Leslie, the Marquis of Montrose 
was speedily discomfited at Philiphaugh ; from which time it 
may be considered that the strength of the king's cause was 
broken, and "none of his men of might could find their hands." 
Much has been written of the severity of the Covenanters 
to the prisoners after this victory; and, particularly, in putting 
to death a number of the rebels, who were some time after- 
wards compelled to surrender at discretion at Dunavertie in 


the Highlands. 1 It is impossible for a Christian mind to 
contemplate these horrors of war without shuddering, nor will 
we undertake to vindicate all the measures of the Presbyterians 
at this trying period; but certainly, if ever severity was justi- 
fiable, it was in the case adverted to. What can be more 
preposterous than to gloat, as some writers have done, with 
evident delight, over the massacre of six thousand trembling 
fugitives after the battle of Kilsyth — a feat which Montrose and 
his savages accomplished in their shirts, with "the sleeves 
tucked up, like a butcher going to kill cattle;" and yet to 
affect the utmost horror at the military and judicial execution 
of some two or three hundred rebels, chiefly Irish, taken with 
arms . in their hands, and reeking with the blood of our 
countrymen? 2 Blinded by prejudice, such writers can see 
no distinction between the cry for justice against these mur- 
derers, which rose from every quarter of the country, and a 
base thirst for private revenge ; nor will they condescend to 
make the smallest allowance for the outraged feelings of a 
people smarting under the threefold scourge of war, famine, 
and pestilence, towards those whom they regarded as the 
authors of all their miseries, and in whom they often recog- 
nized the very ruffians who had been engaged in the murder- 
ous scenes of the Irish rebellion. 3 Cruelty, in every form, is 
justly an object of detestation; but it betrays a strange 
perversion of mind to sympathize in its perpetration, and only 
to revolt at its punishment. 

The period which we now approach was, without excep- 
tion, the most trying and perplexing in the whole history of 
the Scottish Church. When we consider the circumstances 
in which our ancestors were then placed by the course of 
events, we will make great allowances for them, and not 
hastily condemn them for measures which we cannot fully 

1 Sir James Turner, who was on the spot, and no friend to the Cove- 
nanters, distinctly refutes Bishop Guthrie's account of this affair ; and 
declares that no quarter was promised to these prisoners [Turner's Memoirs, 

P- 74)- 

2 Napier's Montrose and the Covenanters, ii. 422-473. 

3 Such was the impression produced by the atrocious conduct of the Irish 
Papists, that they were regarded in England as well as Scotland as having 
placed themselves beyond the rules of civilized warfare. In 1644 the 
English parliament passed an ordinance, that no quarter should be given 
to the Irish who were found in arms against them. [Oldmixon's England, 
i. 269.) 


approve. Distracted between the conscientious duty they 
owed to the great Head of the Church, and the allegiance 
they owed to their earthly sovereign — earnestly desirous to 
see Charles on the throne, and yet unwilling to offend the 
English parliament, to which they looked for protection 
against his despotic encroachments — dreading sectarianism 
on the one hand, and Prelacy on the other — never had the 
rulers of the Church found more difficulty in steering the 
sacred vessel. Though events did not answer their expec- 
tations (and we must not judge of their actions by the events), 
it is impossible for any well-constituted mind not to admire 
the straightforward, consistent principles with which they 
prosecuted their course during this stormy epoch, manifest- 
ing the most devoted loyalty to their unhappy prince, and 
at the same time a steady adherence to the cause of liberty, 
and to their religious engagements — a course that affords a 
striking contrast to that pursued by the other two parties. 
Indeed, one of the strongest attestations to the general recti- 
tude of their conduct appears in the fact, that by the friends 
of both of these parties they have been equally blamed, of 
old and of late, for opposite extremes : the Republican party 
sneered at their excess of loyalty, while the Royalist party 
denounced them as the most base and disloyal of dema- 

The king, after his defeat by Cromwell, had betaken him- 
self, in the spring of 1646, to the Scottish army, at that time 
lying in the north of England, obviously with the design of 
inducing them to take part with him against the English 
parliament. This unexpected step placed the Scots in a 
situation of extreme embarrassment. Their army had been 
levied and sent into England expressly to aid the parliament 
against the royal forces: they were supported by the money 
of the parliament, and considered themselves solemnly bound, 
by the brotherly covenant, to advance its cause. At the 
same time, they had begun to suspect that some of the par- 
liamentary leaders entertained designs against the king's per- 
son; and to refuse him the "shelter and defence" for which 
he professed to have thrown himself into their hands, seemed 
as inconsistent with their engagements in the covenant, which 
bound them to " preserve and defend the king's majesty's 
person and authority, in the preservation and defence of the 


true religion and liberties of the kingdom," as it was repug- 
nant to every feeling of honour and generosity. He was 
received with every mark of respect; and had he complied 
with the only terms on which they could engage to support 
him, there can be little doubt that he would have escaped 
all his subsequent calamities. These terms were — That he 
should dismiss his popishly affected counsellors, and sub- 
scribe the Solemn League. The Scottish commissioners 
were fully aware of the advantage to their cause by the 
accession of such a convert; but, from the state of feeling 
in the country, they were equally convinced of the impracti- 
cability of success on any other terms. They entreated him 
on their knees, and with tears in their eyes, to comply with 
conditions so essential to both nations, as well as to his own 
interests; assuring him that, in the event of his compliance, 
not only would the whole Scottish people prove faithful to 
him, but that the great body of the English would join in re- 
placing him securely on the throne of his ancestors. To all 
these solicitations Charles, who was buoyed up with false 
hopes by his prelates, turned a deaf ear. His only answer 
was, that he was bound, by his coronation oath, to defend 
the Prelacy and the ceremonies of the English Church; and 
that, ere he wronged his conscience by violating that oath, 
he would forfeit his crown and his life. It may appear to 
have been harsh to insist on the king taking a covenant 
which bound him to extirpate Prelacy, while he professed to 
believe it to be a form of divine institution; but when we 
consider that this form had been already abjured and abro- 
gated by the three kingdoms, it does not seem too much 
that the sovereign should have been required to adopt the 
national faith. The interests of a whole nation were not to 
be sacrificed to the personal scruples of the monarch, espe- 
cially when these related merely to a form of ecclesiastical 
government which could not be shown to have any founda- 
tion in Scripture, and the divine right of which had only of 
late been asserted for political purposes. His majesty's pro- 
fessions of regard to his coronation oath, after the specimens 
he had given of his duplicity, and after so often violating 
that oath in regard to the civil liberties of his subjects, met 
with little credit. They did not impose even upon Baillie, 
who savs: "As to his conscience, none would believe him, 


though he were to swear it, that he had any conscience on 
the subject." The real grounds of his refusal to comply 
were, as has been amply shown by others, purely of a poli- 
tical kind. We shall merely add, for the sake of anticipating 
another objection, that although ''covenanting," as it has 
been practised by churches, is a religious duty, requiring 
certain religious qualifications for the right performance of 
it, yet the Solemn League, as well as the National Covenant 
of Scotland, were properly national and public deeds, bind- 
ing, indeed, to the external support of a certain profession 
of religion, but not necessarily implying spiritual qualifica- 
tions in those who entered into them. Religious vowing is, 
in its own nature, a moral duty founded on the law of nature, 
and competent to nations as well as individuals; and our 
covenants may be vindicated on the same principle as the 
oaths which Britain still exacts from those who hold the 
highest official stations. The real source of all the prejudice 
against these deeds has been, that they were sworn in sup- 
port of Presbyterianism. 

That no means might be left untried to relieve the ro\ al 
mind from scruple, Alexander Henderson was, by the king's 
special request, appointed to confer with him at Newcastle 
on the points of difference between Prelacy and Presbytery. 
Henderson declined a public disputation with his majesty's 
divines, on the ground that he had seldom found any good 
result from such controversies. " All that I intended," said 
he, " was a free yet modest expression of my motives and 
inducements which drew my mind to the dislike of Epis- 
copal government, wherein I was bred in my younger years 
in the university." Instead, however, of a familiar confer- 
ence, the points in dispute were discussed in a series of 
papers which passed privately between his majesty and Mr. 
Henderson. The result may be imagined. His majesty in 
his answers carefully evaded the main argument. Hender- 
son quoted Scripture, and Charles the fathers; and the time 
was consumed in a heroic but hopeless attempt, by this most 
unsatisfactory of all modes of discussion, to convince the 
king on points where neither His pride nor his policy would 
yield. These papers are eight in number — live by his 
majesty, and three by Henderson. "After perusing them," 
says one who was well versed in the controversy, ,k it is difri- 


cult to read without a smile the panegyrics which the Epis- 
copalian writers have bestowed on the incomparable wisdom 
of his majesty, and the triumph which he obtained over Mr. 
Henderson in the controversy." 1 

Grieved and heart-broken by the infatuation of the king, 
whom he perceived to be obstinate to all means of extrica- 
tion, this devoted servant of Christ, who was labouring at the 
same time under a severe distemper, which he was persuaded 
would prove mortal, returned by sea to Edinburgh on the 
nth of August, 1646. Though sick and exhausted, he en- 
joyed great peace of mind, and conversed much to the com- 
fort of his brethren who visited him. Having revived a little, 
he was one day so unusually cheerful, that his friend Sir 
James Stuart could not refrain from congratulating him on 
the change. "Well," said Henderson, "I will tell you the 
reason. I am near the end of my race, hasting home, and 1 
am as glad of it as a school-boy when sent home from the 
school to his father's house. In a few days I will sicken 
and die. In my sickness I will be much out of ease to speak 
of anything; but I desire that you may be with me as much 
as you can, and you shall see that all shall end well." Soon 
after this, as he foretold, he departed in peace. His body 
was interred in the Grayfriars' Churchyard, and a monument 
was erected over his remains with a suitable inscription. 
After the Restoration this monument was defaced by orders 
from the government; but it was afterwards repaired, and still 
remains in a very perfect state. Not satisfied with their ven- 
geance on his tombstone, his enemies attempted to blast his 
reputation. Laying hold of his having died soon after his 
conference with the king, they circulated the report that he 
had become a convert to their cause, and that his death had 
been hastened by remorse for the part he had acted against 
his sovereign ! They had even the effrontery to publish a 
forged document, purporting to be his death-bed declaration, 
in which they put into his mouth sentiments which he would 
have sooner died than avowed. This disgraceful and unprin- 
cipled trick, which resembles those so often resorted to by 
Papists, was exposed at the time by the General Assembly, 
who, immediately upon its appearance, appointed a com- 
mittee to examine the pamphlet, and afterwards published a 
1 Life of Henderson by Dr. M'Crie, Miscel. Writings, p. 58. 


declaration of its falsehood and forgery; in which, "out of 
the tender respect which they bear to his name, they declare 
that, after due search and trial, they do find that their worthy 
brother, Mr. Alexander Henderson, did, from the time of 
his coming from London to Newcastle, till the last moment 
of his departure out of this life, manifest the constancy of his 
judgment touching the work of reformation in these kingdoms 
• — as divers reverend brethren who visited him have declared 
to this Assembly, particularly two brethren, who constantly 
attended him from the time he came home till his breath 
expired." 1 This was certainly sufficient; and yet this base 
slander, which has been refuted by our best historians, 2 and 
which has done more discredit to the cause of Prelacy than 
anything that Henderson ever said against it, continues to 
be retailed by writers of that party down to the present day. 
The next scene which occurs in this dramatic portion of our 
history is the surrender of the king's person into the hands 
of the English. It must be gratifying to every lover of his 
country to know, that late investigations have freed the 
memory of our Scottish ancestors from the stigma which was 
so long attached to their conduct in this transaction. It is 
hardly worth while to notice the ridiculous story of the Scots 
having sold their king, which was got up at the time, in con- 
sequence of some arrears having been paid to the Scots army 
for their assistance. Instead of being given as a bribe, this 
money was reluctantly paid by the parliament as a debt for 
past services; and this matter was adjusted in August, 1646, 
five months before the question as to the disposal of the 
king's person was settled, with which, in fact, it had no con- 
nection. The money was payable simply on the condition 
of their delivering up the fortresses on the borders, and 
marching into Scotland — with no stipulation, on either side, 
as to the king's person. 3 But the transaction, though thus 
stripped of its mercenary character, may seem still to reflect 
on the generosity of our countrymen. Even in this point 
of view it is capable of a complete vindication; and had our 
space permitted, it could be demonstrated that the Scottish 

1 Acts of Assembly, p. 422, edit. 16S2. 

2 Laing's History of Scotland, ii. 327. 

3 Whitelocke, 229. Answer of the Commons to the Scots Commissioners' 
Papers, 19. 


leaders acted, on this trying occasion, in the most upright 
and honourable manner. To carry the king with them to 
Scotland, while he refused all terms of accommodation with 
his parliament, would have been to renew the civil war in 
their own country, under circumstances more unfavourable 
than ever. His consenting to the establishment of Presby- 
tery in Scotland, while he retained his designs of subvert- 
ing the Reformation in England, afforded no rational prospect 
of peace; and the Scottish Church, with a noble firmness, 
which is condemned by many who are loud in their praises 
of the firmness of Charles, would not accept of a boon, which, 
in the circumstances, was nothing better than a bribe, and 
which would have involved them in a compromise of their 
sacred engagements with England. On the other hand, to 
deliver him up unconditionally to the pleasure of the Eng- 
lish parliament, as the English demanded, was an alternative 
to which they would not listen; and months were spent in 
negotiations, in the course of which the pertinacity of the 
Scots on their right to be consulted in the disposal of the 
king's person, threatened to issue in an open rupture with 
the parliament. The speeches of the Scots commissioners 
who went to London to treat this delicate question, on being 
sent to press, were seized and suppressed by order of parlia- 
ment, and the printer was imprisoned. They were published, 
however, in Scotland; and, breathing as they did the most 
devoted loyalty, they created a sensation in behalf of the 
unfortunate monarch, which his subsequent fate roused into 
universal indignation. 

The point for which the Scots commissioners contended 
was, that the king should, in accordance with his own earnest 
and repeatedly expressed desire, be permitted to return to 
some of his palaces in the neighbourhood of London, "with 
honour, safety, and freedom." "We do hold," said Lord 
Loudoun, " that the disposing of the king's person doth not 
properly belong to any one of the kingdoms, but jointly to 
both. And after Scotland hath suffered the heat of the day 
and winter's cold, have forsaken their own peace for love of 
their brethren, have set their own house on fire to quench 
theirs; after we have gone along with you in all the hardship 
of this war, and (without vanity be it spoken) have been so 
useful in the cause; and that the king hath cast himself into the 


hands of the Scottish army, and that, by the blessing of God, 
we are come to the harbour of a peace — we cannot expect 
that the honourable house will think it agreeable with the 
conscience or honour, that the person of the king should be 
disposed of by them as they think fit, or by any one of the 
kingdoms alone. The king doth, with all earnestness, desire 
to be joined with you. Nor can there be a more real testi- 
mony of our respect and affection to England, than that we 
desire he may be with you, and be advised by you; neither 
can you have any greater honour, than that his majesty is 
willing to return to you. And if so kind an offer should be 
refused, and the king driven to despair, it is to be feared these 
kingdoms will be involved in greater difficulties than ever. 
For though Scotland be most willing and desirous that the 
king should return to his parliament with honour, safety, and 
freedom; yet if any such course should be taken, or any 
demand made for rendering of his person, which cannot stand 
with his honour and safety, or which cannot consist with our 
duty, allegiance, and covenant, nor with the honour of that 
army to whom, in the time of his extreme danger, he had his 
recourse for safety, it cannot be expected that we can be capable 
of so base an act. And whatever hath been moved by us con- 
cerning the king, we desire it may be rightly constructed, as 
proceeding from such as have not wavered from their first prin- 
ciples; for when the king was in the height of his power we did 
not, and I hope never shall, flatter him; and when the enemy 
was in the height of their pride and strength Scotland did 
fear no colours! And now, when the king is at his lowest ebb, 
and hath cast himself into our army for safety, we hope your 
lordships will pardon us, from our sense of honour and duty, 
to be very tender of the person and posterity of the king, to 
whom we have so many near relations, and not like the worst 
of us, that we cannot so far forget our allegiance and duty, as 
not to have an antipathy against the change of a monarchical 
government, in which we have lived through the descent of so 
many kings, and under which both kingdoms have been gov- 
erned so many ages, and flourished in all happiness." 1 

In their reply to these truly loyal and patriotic sentiments 
the parliament expressed great indignation at the suspicions 

1 Several Speeches spoken by the Right Honourable the Earle of Lou- 
doun, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland, at a Conference, &c. Oct. 1646. 


which the Scots seemed to entertain of their intentions. 
" Let not your expressions obliquely infer," said they, " that 
the parliament of England will not do what becometh them 
to the king, since all the world doth know that this kingdom 
hath in all times showed as great affection to their kings as 
any other nation." The English house of peers, who were 
inclined to befriend Charles, and considered his presence in 
London necessary to prosecute their designs in his favour, 
and against the sectarian army, now became as anxious as the 
commons for the removal of the Scottish army out of England. 
Embarrassed by these conflicting claims — despairing of being 
able to conquer the obstinacy of Charles, whose last message, 
when presented to the house of peers, " made all," as Burnet 
informs us, "even those that were best affected, hang their 
heads, and send it down to the house of commons without a 
word" — and perceiving no other course which they could 
pursue with safety or success, the parliament of Scotland at 
length, considering that, a as his majesty has frequently ex- 
pressed his desire to be near his two houses of parliament, 
and that these houses had desired he might come to Holmby 
House, promising the safety and preservation of his royal 
person, in the preservation and defence of the true religion 
and liberties of the kingdom, according to the covenant, they 
declare their concurrence for his majesty going to Holmby 
House, or some other of his majesty's houses in or about 
London, there to remain till he give satisfaction to both king- 
doms in the propositions of peace; and that, in the meantime, 
there shall be no harm, prejudice, injury, or violence done to 
his royal person — that there shall be no change of government 
other than has been for three years preceding — and that his 
posterity shall in no wise be prejudiced in their lawful suc- 
cession to the throne and government of these kingdoms." 
Who could have anticipated, that within three years after, 
the English, to whose honour and fidelity the Scots committed 
the person of their common sovereign, would have brought 
him to their bar as a criminal, and to the scaffold as a traitor? 
When Charles returned to his parliament there was no human 
probability of such a catastrophe; his affairs were in a better 
train than ever, had it not been for what has been well termed 
his own "perverse fatality;" and before we can condemn 
the Scots as accessory to his death, we must suppose them to 


have possessed a sagacity which foresaw the issue of the most 
complicated negotiations, to have calculated on the obstinacy 
of the king resisting every proposal, and to have anticipated 
the bloody termination of the conflict — a catastrophe which 
took the whole nation by surprise, and filled Europe with 
astonishment. 1 

The year 1648 was distinguished by the famous engagement 
projected by the Duke of Hamilton, the professed object of 
which was to rescue Charles from the English army, now 
under the command of Cromwell, and which had obtained 
by force possession of the king's person. This ill-fated ex- 
pedition was condemned by the Scottish Presbyterians, be- 
cause no provision was made, in the event of its success, that 
the king should secure the liberties of the nation according 
to the terms of the covenant. These terms, indeed, bound 

1 In a treatise published by the committee of estates, 1650, in answer 
to Montrose's declaration, they vindicate themselves and the Scottish 
nation, with unanswerable force, from the charges above referred to. 
"Our chief study and endeavour," say they, "hath been to render unto 
God the things that are God's, and to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, 
and to our neighbours the things that are theirs. We hope it is made 
clear and evident to all that will judge impartially, that there was no 
treaty betwixt this kingdom, their committees or armies, with the king, 
before his coming to our army, nor after his coming, but with the advice 
and consent of both houses of parliament; and that it is a malicious and 
wicked device, and manifest untruth, that we should have sold our king. 
We abhor the very thoughts of it." After stating that "the agreement 
for paying their arrears was made five months before the king, with con- 
sent of both kingdoms, went from Newcastle to Holmby, " they proceed 
to vindicate themselves from disloyalty and imprudence in giving consent 
to his majesty's going to the parliament. "Who would, at that time, have 
foreseen that an army, raised by the parliament for their own defence, and 
which, in profession, so highly esteemed and magnified the authority of 
parliament, would not only disobey their orders, but also attempt such 
horrid things as they have since adventured upon? Surely, when the 
army came out of England, it would have seemed not only improbable but 
incredible. The kingdom of Scotland did intrust his majesty's person 
to the honourable houses of parliament of England, who were as deeply 
engaged by duty, oaths, covenants, and solemn professions, for his majesty's 
preservation, as the kingdom of Scotland; and, no question, they would 
have preserved his majesty's person from all violence or injury whatsoever, 
had they not met with the unexpected violence against their own persons; 
for until the army did, by the power of the sword, imprison and seclude the 
far greater part of the house of commons, and make void the power of the 
house of peers, they durst not attempt anything against his majesty's person. 
And what wonder if we, who were strangers, could not perceive the depth 
of such designs (if at that time there was any framed design of that kind, 
which we very much question), when the houses of parliament did not foresee 
their own ruin?" 


them to " stand to the defence of our dread sovereign the 
king's majesty, his person, and authority;" but at the same 
time, " to the defence of the liberties and laws of the king- 
dom;" and the reason assigned for this was, that "some 
among themselves had laboured to put into the hands of the 
king an arbitrary and unlimited power, destructive to the 
privileges of parliaments and the liberties of the subject." 
So that, as has been justly remarked, " in proof of the regard 
of our fathers to civil liberty, we may appeal to those very 
covenants which have been so absurdly decried by ignorant 
and prejudiced moderns, but which, in reality, constituted 
at that time the only Magna Charta of Scottish freedom." 1 
The Covenanters, with equal sagacity and regard to liberty, 
protested against the admission, into places of power and 
trust in this army, of those who were termed maligiiaiits — 
that is, persons notoriously hostile to the cause of civil and 
religious freedom, and inclined to favour the arbitrary mea- 
sures of the court. It was perceived at once that to suffer 
this, in the circumstances of the country, was equivalent to 
delivering up the military into the hands of the king, and 
abandoning all that they had been contending for. But 
though the Church protested against the enterprise, it was 
sanctioned by the estates; the command was intrusted to 
notorious malignants, and Hamilton dragged a reluctant 
army of fifteen thousand men into England, where, as might 
have been expected, from the total w r ant of spirit and mutual 
confidence among them, they were easily routed by the 
English army under Cromwell, near Preston, with the loss of 
two thousand killed and eight thousand prisoners. 

The battle, fatal to so many of our countrymen, proved 
fatal also to the infatuated monarch. The sectarian army, 
or, as Cromwell called them, his " obedient lambs," elated 
by their successes, repaired to London, and took the admin- 
istration into their own hands. Their first step was to purge 
the House of Commons by excluding all the Presbyterian 
members, which was done by a guard of soldiers under the 
command of Colonel Pride. The Commons thus reduced to 
sectaries, commonly called the Rump Parliament, appointed 
what they termed a high court of justice; and Charles, on 
being arraigned before this nondescript tribunal, and refus- 

1 Preliminary Dissertation to Wodrow's History by Dr. Rums, 



ing to own their jurisdiction, was condemned as a traitor, 
and sentenced to be beheaded. The awful sentence was 
executed on the 30th of January, 1649, before an immense 
concourse of spectators. Cannons were planted at all the 
avenues leading to the place of execution, in case of tumult; 
and when the axe fell, and the executioner exposed the 
bleeding head to public view, one dismal universal groan 
burst from the horror-stricken crowd, who were immediately 
dispersed in all directions by troops of dragoons. 

The behaviour of Charles at his death presents his char- 
acter in a light much more favourable than any of the public 
actions of his life. That cold reserve and inflexible obsti- 
nacy which distinguished his whole conduct, assumed in his 
last moments the sublimer aspect of chastened and tranquil 
magnanimity. His private virtues have been acknowledged 
by all; but such were the imperfections of his character, that 
these virtues were unprofitable to the public, and, by their 
abuse, proved pernicious to himself. His bigotry, his stub- 
bornness, and, above all, his ambition of inordinate power, 
which he refused to share with any but the prelates, brought 
misery upon his country, and ruin upon himself. His life 
was a series of political blunders; and his death, though 
little better than a judicial murder, may warn princes to the 
end of time against abusing the power with which they are 
intrusted, not for their own exclusive benefit, but the welfare 
of the community. 

When the news of the execution of Charles I. reached 
Edinburgh, on Sabbath, February 4, 1649, it is impossible 
to describe the mingled feelings of astonishment, horror, and 
indignation which filled all ranks of persons; 1 and if any- 
thing were wanting to prove the devoted and disinterested 
loyalty of the Scottish Presbyterians, the step they instantly 
took places it beyond all question. The very next day, 
without calculating the consequences, Charles II., the son of 
the deceased monarch, was proclaimed king at the cross of 
Edinburgh by the committee of estates. The proclamation, 
however, was guarded by the proviso, that " before being 

1 While the Episcopal clergy timidly stood aloof, the English Presby- 
terians boldly protested against the execution of Charles, and condemned 
it in every possible way. {Bcnnet's Memorial, p. 223; Loyalty 0/ Presby- 
terians, pp. 241, 245.) 


admitted to the exercise of his royal power, lie shall give 
satisfaction to this kingdom in those things that concern the 
security of religion, according to the national covenant and 
the solemn league and covenant " — the only terms on which 
the Scots considered themselves warranted, in consistency 
with their engagements to England, and from regard to 
their own civil and religious liberties, to invite him to the 
throne. As a proof of his sincerity in prosecuting the ends 
of these covenants, he was to be required to dismiss from 
his councils and from places of trust all who were suspected 
of disaffection to the covenanted cause. Commissioners 
were immediately despatched to Charles, who was then at 
the Hague in Holland, to treat with him on these terms; 
but at first, imitating the policy of his father, he refused to 
listen to any stipulations; in consequence of which the 
commissioners returned without accomplishing their object. 
The negotiations were renewed with better success the fol- 
lowing year; but meanwhile, let us attend to the proceed- 
ings of the Church during the intervening period. 

During the whole of this period of civil convulsion the 
Church prospered and improved in no ordinary degree. 
The minds of men were kept on the alert, and led to serious 
inquiry, by being compelled to contend, amidst almost per- 
petual changes, perils, an'd alarms, for their religious prin- 
ciples and privileges. The constant practice of catechising 
the young and old left few ignorant of the doctrines of reli- 
gion, or of the profession for which they were contending. 
All felt personally interested in the public struggle. The 
ministers, though not without their faults and extravagances, 
were distinguished as a body for their theological learning, 
their piety, and assiduity in their functions. Bishop Burnet, 
who is sufficiently ready to depreciate them, is obliged to 
own, " They had an appearance that created respect. They 
were related to the chief families in the country either by 
blood or marriage, and had lived in so decent a manner 
that the gentry paid great respect to them. They used to 
visit their parishes much; and had brought the people to 
such a degree of knowledge, that cottagers and servants 
would have prayed extempore. As they lived in great fami- 
liarity with their people, and used to pray and talk oft with 
them in private, so it can hardly be imagined to what degree 


they were loved and reverenced by them." 1 Great efforts 
were made during this stormy period to purify the Church 
from unworthy ministers; a step which was followed by the 
revival of religion, and a visible reformation of manners, in 
several parishes. Many excellent acts were passed by the 
General Assembly. To this period, also, we are indebted 
for the full establishment of parochial schools, which have 
contributed so much to elevate Scotland above other nations 
in point of general intelligence: and which, being originally 
designed as nurseries for the Church of Christ, as well as 
seminaries for useful learning, were placed under the super- 
intendence of presbyteries, and conducted on religious prin- 
ciples. This valuable institution, which was projected by the 
reformers, and brought into extensive operation long before 
it received the support of the government, we entirely owe 
to the efforts of the Church courts; and, indeed, their care 
to promote the interests both of common education in the 
Highlands and Lowlands, and of classical learning, mani- 
fested in numerous acts regarding schools and universities, 
reflects the highest credit on their enlarged and enlightened 
views, at a time when our ancestors are generally charged 
with the most narrow-minded bigotry. Making allowances 
for the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed, 
and by which they were occasionally driven into extreme 
measures, the estimate of Kirkton cannot be considered be- 
yond the truth when he says of this period (1649), " Now 
the ministry was notably purified, the magistracy altered, and 
the people strangely refined. Scotland hath been, even by 
emulous foreigners, called Philadelphia ; and now she seemed 
to be in her flower." 

In these exertions for the good of their country the Church 
had the co-operation of the ruling powers, who passed several 
acts contributing to the advancement of religion. Among 
these we cannot omit the celebrated act passed in 1649, for 
the total abolition of patronage. Without entering into the 
much litigated question of patronage, we shall state a few 
facts in illustration of its history in the Church of Scotland. 
The opinion of the first reformers on the subject may be 
gathered from the fact, that they held the election of the 
people essential for the pastoral relation between a minister 
1 Burnet's History, i. 225. 


and a congregation. In the First Book of Discipline, which 
continued to be the rule of the Church for many years, and 
the authority of which was not superseded by the Second 
Book, it is laid down as a principle, that " it appertained to 
the people, and to every several congregation, to elect their 
minister;" and that "altogether this is to be avoided, that 
any man be violently intruded or thrust in upon any con- 
gregation." It would appear they did not at first perceive 
that patronage was incompatible with this principle; and 
for some time they went on harmoniously together in prac- 
tice. 1 

In the year 1565 Queen Mary, having suspected that the 
General Assembly, by certain articles which they presented 
to her majesty, intended to interfere with her right of pre- 
sentation, the Assembly replied, " Our mind is not that her 
majesty, or any other patron of this realm, should be de- 
frauded of their just patronages; but as the presentation of 
benefices pertains to the patron, so ought the collation 
thereof, by law and reason, pertain to the Kirk." Her 
majesty had misunderstood them; whatever they might think 
of patronage, they did not intend by these articles to inter- 
fere with the rights of the queen, far less to " defraud " the 
patrons; the struggle at that time was for the right of colla- 
tion. Still the form of electing by the congregation was 
continued in one shape or another; and such was the care 
of the clergy to preserve the liberties of the people, that 
during the Presbyterian administration no complaints of 

1 In 1561 Knox admitted John Spotswoode as Superintendent of Lothian, 
and the form of procedure, which was published in a treatise at the time, 
may serve to illustrate this point. The sermon being finished, Knox declared, 
"That the lords of secret councill had given charge and power to the 
churches of Lothian to chuse Mr. John Spotswoode, superintendent," &c. 
' ' When no objection was moved, the people present were asked if there was 
any other they desired to be put in election with the said Mr. John; and 
next, if they would have him to be their superintendent; if they would 
honour and obey him as Christ's minister, and comfort and assist him in 
everything pertaining to his charge? It was answered, by some appointed 
for that purpose, 'We will; and do promise to him such obedience as 
becometh the sheep to give unto their pastor, so long as he remaineth faith- 
ful in his office.' The people's consent being thus declared, Mr. Knox pro- 
posed the following questions to Mr. Spotswoode," &c. This treatise, 
entitled "The Form and Order of the Election of the Superintendent, Which 
may serve in the election of all other Ministers," may be found in Dunlop's 
Confessions, vol. ii., and in Wodrow's Biographical Collections, Maitland 
edit. vol. i. part 1, p. 75. 


intrusion were ever heard. 1 They soon, however, discovered 
that patronage in its exercise interfered with the freedom of 
election; and accordingly, in the Second Book of Discipline, 
begun in 1573, and finally agreed to in 1578, among "cer- 
tain special heads of reformation which we crave," they men- 
tion the abolition of patronage. 2 If it should be asked, How 
the Church of Scotland could continue to enjoy her bene- 
fices under a system which she declared to be " contrary to 
the Word of God, and to the liberty of election?" we reply, 
That she did so under a solemn protest against it; that it 
was not in her power to rescind the law, this being the pro- 
vince of the state; and that she was constantly looking for 
deliverance from it as a yoke. In 1582, when an act was 
passed to prevent some abuses of patronage, it was declared 
that its provisions " should no ways be prejudicial to the 
laic patrons and their presentations, until the time the laws 
be reformed according to the Word of God." 3 In 1596 the 
Assembly ordained, that " because by presentations many 
are forcibly thrust into the ministry, and upon congregations 
that utter thereafter that they were not called of God, it 
would be provided that none seek presentations to bene- 

1 In 1563 Robert Ramsay is suspended by the Assembly, "for entering 
in the ministrie within the superintendent of Angus his bounds, without 
election or his admission." [Dooke of the Universal Kirk, part i. p. 44, Ban. 
edit.) Even the bishops introduced by Morton were "chosen by the flock 
then present," anno 1574. {Ibid. p. 349.) Indeed, the parliament of 1640 
declare it as a well known fact, that it had been the practice of the Church 
of Scotland to settle parishes "on the sute and calling of the congregation, 
ever since the reformation." [Act Pari. Scot. v. 299.) 

a ' ' The libertie of the election of persons called to the ecclesiastical function, 
and observed without interruption so long as the Kirke was not corrupted by 
antichrist, we desire to be restored and retained within this realm. So that 
none be intrused upon any congregation, either by the prince, or any inferior 
person, without lawful election, and the assent of the people over whom the 
person is placed, as the practice of the apostolical and primitive Kirk, and 
good order craves. And, because this order which God's word craves, 
cannot stand with patronages and presentation to benefices, used in the 
pope's kirk, we desire all them that truly fear God earnestly to consider that 
forasmuch as the names of patronages and benefices, together with the 
effect thereof, have flowed from the pope and corruption of the canon law 
only, in so far as thereby any person was intrused, or placed over kirks having 
the care of souls; and forasmuch as that manner of proceeding hath no 
ground in the word of God, but is contrary to the same, and to the said 
liberty of election, they [patronages! ought not now to have place in this 
light of reformation." {Second Book of Discipline, ch. 12.) 

3 Calderwood, p. 124; Booke of the Universal Kirk, p. 247, Peterkin's 


fices without advice of the presbytery." They also ordained, 
"That the trial of persons to be admitted to the ministry 
hereafter consist not only in their learning and ability to 
preach, but also in conscience and feeling and spiritual wis- 
dom; and such as are not qualified in these points, to be 
delayed to further trial, and till they be found qualified." 
The events which followed soon after, with the introduction 
of Prelacy, rendered all attempts of this nature hopeless; 
but no sooner did the civil power become favourable, than 
the Church renewed her exertions to shake off the burden. 
The famous Assembly at Glasgow, in 1638, not only ratified 
the Second Book of Discipline, in which patronage is so ex- 
plicitly condemned, and the foresaid act of Assembly, 1596, 
but enacted, " That no person be intruded in any office of 
the Kirk contrary to the will of the congregation to which 
they are appointed." With these principles the practice of 
the Church of Scotland at that time fully corresponded; 
"so that," says Henderson, in a treatise published in 1641, 
" no man is here obtruded upon the people against their 
open or tacit consent and approbation." 1 In 1646 we find 
the Assembly "recommending to several presbyteries and 
provincial assemblies to consider the interests of particular 
congregations in the calling and admission of ministers;" 
and at length, in compliance with the urgent desires of the 
Church, the parliament, March, 1649, cordially and com- 
pletely abolished patronage, leaving it to the General As- 
sembly to fix upon such a plan of admission to the sacred 
office as they in their wisdom might see fit. The preamble 
of this act, as expressing the views of our reforming ances- 
tors, deserves attention : " Considering that patronages and 
presentations of kirks is an evil and bondage under which 
the Lord's people and ministers of this land have long 
groaned, and that it hath no warrand in God's word, but is 
founded only on the canon law, and is a custom merely 
popish, brought into the Kirk in time of ignorance and 
superstition; and that the same is contrary to the Second 
Book of Discipline, in which, upon solid and good ground, 
it is reckoned among abuses that are desired to be reformed, 
and unto several acts of General Assemblies; and that it is 
prejudicial to the liberty of the people and planting of kirks, 
1 The Government and Order of the Church of Scotland. 


and unto the free calling and entries of ministers unto their 
charge: and the said estates being willing and desirous to 
promote and advance the reformation aforesaid, that every- 
thing in the house of God may be ordered according to his 
will and commandment, do discharge for ever hereafter all 
presentations of kirks, whether belonging to the king or any 
laic patron, presbyteries, or others within this kingdom." 
The General Assembly, in July following, " highly commend 
the piety and zeal of the estates of parliament in promoting 
so necessary a point of reformation;" and, with some variety 
of opinion as to the particular mode in which elections 
should be conducted, they agreed on a plan which, though 
imperfect, and only intended to be temporary, was attended 
with the best effects. According to this the election was 
placed in the session, with consent of the congregation, who 
might obtain a hearing of any preachers they chose by peti- 
tioning the presbytery. In the case of dissent by the major 
part of the congregation from the person agreed upon by 
the session, the matter was to be remitted to the judgment 
of the presbytery, who, " if they do not find their dissent to 
be grounded on causeless prejudices, are to appoint a new 
election." 1 

But to return to our narrative : — In the following year the 
Scots renewed their negotiations with Charles at Breda; and 
upon hearing that Montrose had failed in his foolhardy expe- 

1 Sir James Balfour informs us that "the current was carried for the 
Church way, in respect Argyll, the chancellor, and Archibald Johnston, 
durst doe no utherwayes, lest the leaders of the Church should desert 
them, and leave them to stand on their auen feeitt, which without the 
Church none of them could weill do." {Histor. Works, vol. iii. ad. an. 
1649.) This is, at least, a testimony to the zeal of the Church in the 
matter; but Sir James had no ground for accusing the nobles, as a body, 
of insincerity. 

The chief dispute in the Assembly, 1649, regarding the mode of election, 
turned on the question, Whether the part which the congregation had in the 
election was that of nomination or consent? The progress of Independency 
in England filled many with a dread of everything that seemed to favour the 
views of that sect, who ascribed to the people the whole power of admission 
to the sacred office. Calderwood, "who, in the time of his exile, had seen 
the wild follies of the English Brownists in Arnheim and Amsterdam " 
{Guthrie's Memoirs, p. 79), Baillie, and others, who had been engaged in 
the Independent controversy, were averse to admit that the people possessed 
the right of election; but all agreed that the right of election should be within 
the Church — that patronage was, in every form, hostile to the liberty of elec- 
tion and the independence of the Church — and that no minister should be 
intruded into any congregation against their will. 


dition against the Covenanters, and been executed as a traitor, 
he thought proper to comply with their proposals; and setting 
sail with the commissioners landed in Scotland, at the mouth 
of the Spey, on the 23d of June, 1650. It would be well for 
the credit both of his majesty and of our venerable ancestors, 
if historical truth would allow us to draw a veil over the 
transactions which followed. Before Charles landed on the 
Scottish shore he agreed to swear and subscribe the cove- 
nant. Mr. Livingstone, who accompanied the embassy, and 
was very jealous of the king's sincerity, would have deferred 
this ceremony till he was brought to a better state of mind; 
but he was overruled by the rest, and prevailed on reluctantly 
to administer the solemn test. In August following, finding 
that the Church still entertained strong suspicions of his in- 
sincerity, the king subscribed a declaration at Dunfermline, 
in which he professed to lament the opposition his father 
had made to the work of reformation, and solemnly declared 
that he renounced Popery and Prelacy, and " would have 
no enemies but the enemies of the covenant — no friends but 
the friends of the covenant." Mr. Gillespie, the minister 
who put the pen into Charles' hand to subscribe this declara- 
tion, assured him, " that if he was not satisfied in his soul 
and conscience, beyond all hesitation, of the righteousness 
of the subscription, he was so far from over-driving him to 
do it, that he obtested him, and charged him, in his Master's 
name, not to subscribe that declaration, no, not for the three 
kingdoms." " Mr. Gillespie," answered the king, " Mr. Gil- 
lespie, I am satisfied, and therefore will subscribe it." 1 The 
truth is, that in religious matters Charles would subscribe 
anything. It was afterwards discovered, that before he left 
the Continent he had embraced Popery, and in this religion, 
if he can be said to have had any religion, he continued till 
his death, though on his restoration he subscribed the articles 
of the Church of England; thus juggling in sacred things to 
the last, and imposing on the English Church, as he now 
did on the Scottish, by false professions. 2 Even at this 
time, while coming under the most sacred engagements to 
support Presbytery, he was secretly concerting measures to 
ruin that cause, by introducing its enemies into the army 
and legislature, and dividing the Presbyterians. The stern 
1 Life of Mr. John Livingstone. 2 Burnet, i. 131; ii. 457. 


obstinacy of his father appears virtue itself, when contrasted 
with the cool perjury of his profligate and unprincipled son. 

It is impossible, on the other hand, to vindicate the con- 
duct of the leaders among the Presbyterians, in accepting 
or requiring these protestations from such a man as Charles, 
under the circumstances of the case. The truth is, that 
these tests were exacted by a party in the Church and state 
— the moderate party, as it may be termed — who were most 
friendly to Charles, and were driven to these measures to 
silence the scruples of their brethren, and secure the co-oper- 
ation of the country in restoring the king to his throne. 
With the same views, and hopeful that his majesty would 
prove faithful to his engagements, which were absolutely 
necessary to his success, they prevailed on the commissioners 
to "forbear mentioning in the Assembly (July, 1650) anything 
which might make the king or his way odious, in the entry 
of his government." And thus were laid the foundations 
of that lamentable schism between the Resolutioners and 
Protesters, which was not healed even at the period of the 
Restoration. 1 

The people of Scotland, ignorant of the real character of 
Charles, and confiding in his professions, were overjoyed at 
the arrival of their prince. " In a special manner at Edin- 
burgh," says Nicol, in his Diary, "by setting furth of bail- 
fyres, ringing of bells, sounding of trumpets, and dancing all 
that night through the streets. The puir kaill-wyffes at the 
Trone sacrificed their creels, and the very stools they sat 
upon, to the fire." These rejoicings were soon interrupted 
by the approach of Cromwell, and the shameful defeat at 
Dunbar, when no less than three thousand Scots fell on the 
field of battle, among whom were several ministers, who, 
being viewed with an evil eye by the sectaries, found no 
mercy at their hands. If we may believe a historian who is 
far from favouring the Covenanters, the English owed this vic- 
tory as much to the lenity of the Scottish leaders as to their 
presumption. Sir Edward Walker tells us that the committee 
of war would not allow the attack to be made on Cromwell 
when they might have routed him, " saying it were pity to 

1 Row's Supplement to Life of Rlair, MS., p. 82; Burnet's History of 
his Own Time's i- 102; Hind let Loc&e, pp. 87, S3; Cruickshank's In- 
trod. i. 38. 

1650.] DEFEAT AT DUNBAR 235 

destroy so many of their brethren ; but seeing that next day 
they were like to fall into their hands, it were better to get a 
dry victory, and send them back with shame for their breach 
of covenant." 1 The unfortunate Covenanters, who were 
sincere, at least, however far they might be mistaken in their 
attempts to serve the monarch for whom they shed their 
blood, met with little sympathy; and it is with no ordinary 
feelings of disgust that we learn, from Clarendon, that Charles 
rejoiced at their defeat. " Never," says that cold-hearted 
historian, "was victory obtained with less lamentation; for, 
as Cromwell had great argument of triumph, so the king was 
glad of it, as the greatest happiness that could befall him, in 
the loss of so strong a body of his enemies !" 

Charles, indeed, soon gave evidence that he looked on the 
Presbyterians as his "enemies." One Saturday morning, when 
at Perth, shortly after the battle of Dunbar, and while Crom- 
well lay in Edinburgh, his majesty, on pretence of hawking, 
left the town on horseback, attended by a few domestics, and 
set off at full speed to the hills. Here he was met by the 
Earl of Buchan, not, as he expected, at the head of an army 
prepared to deliver him out of the hands of the Covenanters, 
but with a miserable escort of some sixty or seventy Highland- 
ers. He was led to a wretched hovel, where, throwing 
himself on an old bolster and some rushes, he was found by 
a party sent in pursuit of him, and brought back next day to 
Perth in time to hear the afternoon sermon. This ill-timed 
flight, which was called the start, filled the minds of all his 
friends with the deepest grief. "To my own heart," says 
Baillie, "it brought one of the most sensible sorrows that in 
all my life I had felt." Jealous as many of the stricter 
Presbyterians were of him before, when he " took the start," 
they lost all confidence in him. And in October, 1650, a 
long and pointed remonstrance was addressed to the com- 

1 Sir Edward Walker's Journal, Disc. p. 180. Much misapprehension 
exists as to the share which the ministers had in provoking David Leslie 
to engage. Some of them, no doubt, were too forward; their notion of 
purging the army, even of private soldiers suspected of malignancy, was 
sufficiently absurd; and their expectation of supernatural success to their 
army, because thus purified (the error of the age), was equally unwar- 
ranted. But it was Leslie's own conceit to draw down the army from the 
hill at night which proved its ruin; and none were more indignant at him 
than the protesting ministers. {Pamphlets, AJ:>. Lib. A A A. 3, 22; Baillie, 
»■ 35o.) 


mittee of estates, signed by a number of gentlemen, officers, 
and ministers, connected with the forces in the west country, 
complaining of their rashness in admitting the king to swear 
the covenant, and charging them, in very severe terms, with 
having " turned aside, forgotten their late vows, and brought 
the calamities of war upon the nation by their unfaithful 

In the midst of all these disorders of church and state 
Charles was solemnly crowned at Scoon, on the ist of Jan- 
uary, 165 1. The sermon before the ceremony was preached 
by Mr. Robert Douglas, one of the ministers of Edinburgh. 
He chose for his text those strikingly appropriate words, 
2 Kings xi. 12, 17: "And he brought forth the king's son, 
and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; 
and they made him king, and anointed him ; and they clapped 
their hands, and said, God save the king. And Jehoiada 
made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the 
people, that they should be the Lord's people; between the 
king also and the people." This sermon has been printed, 
and it is certainly an ingenious, able, and faithful discourse. 
'•' Many doubt of your reality in the covenant," said the 
preacher, addressing his majesty; "let your sincerity be evi- 
denced by your steadfastness and constancy; for many, like 
your ancestor, have begun well, but have not been constant. 
Take warning from the example before you; let it be laid to 
heart; requite not men's faithful kindness with persecution; yea, 
requite not the Lord so, who has preserved you* to this time, 
and is setting a crown upon your head." After sermon, the 
National Covenant and Solemn League were distinctly read, 
and the king solemnly swore them. Thereafter, the oath to 
defend and support the Church of Scotland was administered 
to the king, who, kneeling and holding up his right hand, 
used these awfully solemn words: "By the Eternal and 
Almighty God, who liveth and reigneth for ever, I shall 
observe and keep all that is contained in this oath." The 
whole ceremonial was gone about with as much formality as 
circumstances admitted; but the dangers with which they 
were environed threw a gloom over the scene, and the 
mournful forebodings of the more faithful of the clergy were 
speedily confirmed. 

The shameful defeat at Dunbar proved hardly less disas- 


trous to the Church of Scotland than to the Scottish army. 
The successes of Cromwell, who now threatened to overrun 
the whole country, emboldened Charles and his courtiers to 
press for the removal of those restraints which were laid on 
the royal party by the act of classes passed in 1649. This 
act, so called from its dividing the malignants into different 
classes, according to their degrees of disaffection to the 
covenant, excluded many of Charles' friends from the army 
and civil judicatories. To have some pretext for repealing 
this obnoxious statute, which guarded the privileges of the 
Church as well as the liberties of the nation, it was deemed 
of importance to obtain the approbation of the General 
Assembly. This, however, was not easily obtained. A large 
party in the Church had, as we have already seen, become 
justly suspicious of the sincerity of Charles, and severely 
blamed their brethren of the royal or moderate party for 
precipitance in exacting from him professions which were 
contradicted by all that they knew of his principles and con- 
duct. As proofs of his insincerity, they referred to the fact, 
that while in treaty with the Scots Covenanters he had secretly 
confirmed a peace with the Irish rebels, and sent a commis- 
sion to Montrose to invade Scotland — which was found 
among the papers of the latter after his defeat. And in their 
remonstrance they protested against the Dunfermline de- 
claration, which the moderate party had drawn up, as 
" teaching his majesty dissimulation and outward compliance, 
rather than any cordial conjunction with the cause and 
covenant." 1 These remonstrances gave great offence to the 
ruling party in the Church, and the breach was widened by 
their subsequent procedure. A few members of the com- 
mission of the Assembly, favourable to the royal party, 
having met at Perth in December, 1650, the parliament sub- 
mitted to their judgment the following question: "What 
persons are to be admitted to rise in arms, and to join 'with 
the forces of the kingdom, and in what capacity, for defence 
thereof, against the armies of the sectaries, who, contrary to 
the solemn league and covenant and treaties, have most 
unjustly invaded and are destroying the kingdom?" In 
answer to this ensnaring question, so plausibly worded, the 
commission passed two resolutions, favourable, under certain 
1 Wcstland Remonstrance, apudS'w J. Balfour's Works, iv. 143. 


limitations, to the admission of all fencible persons in the 

land. No sooner had these been obtained, than the par- 
liament, without paying any regard to their limitations, 
rescinded the act of classes; and the consequence was, that 
the most notorious malignants, some of whom had served 
under Montrose, and all of whom were enemies to the 
second reformation, were nominated to the highest posts in 
the army, and to places of power and trust in the state. In 
consequence of these resolutions, a sad division took place in 
the Assembly which met at St. Andrews and Dundee, July, 
1 65 1. Those who adhered to the resolutions or answers 
given by the commission were called Resolutioners; those 
who joined in a protest againt them were denominated 
Protesters. The debates between the parties, as might be 
expected from the spirit of the time, were violent, tedious, and 
involved; each side professing to be actuated by regard to 
the reformation, and mutually charging each other with 
marring it. The Resolutioners, who formed the majority in 
this Assembly, went so far as to depose three of the most 
eminent and active of the Protesters, namely, James Guthrie, 
minister of Stirling (who was afterwards martyred), Patrick 
Gillespie of Glasgow, and James Simpson of Airth. The 
Protesters, on the other hand, asserted the nullity of this 
Assembly, and protested against all their proceedings. 1 

Such was the origin of the first schism that had taken place 
in the Church of Scotland since the Reformation. The con- 
troversy involved a number of questions, casuistical and poli- 
tical, of which we cannot afford room even for an abstract. 
Much may be said on both sides. Great allowances must 
be made for the Resolutioners, who contended for the neces- 
sity of enrolling all that were capable of bearing arms. But 
it is not difficult for us, who have the light of subsequent 
history, to see that the Protesters, as their brethren were 
afterwards compelled to acknowledge, " had their eyes open, 
while the Resolutioners were blind." The perfidious con- 
duct of Charles at the Restoration, and twenty-eight years 
of bloody persecution, furnish a melancholy commentary on 
the truth of this conclusion. " I must confess, madam," said 

1 Nullity of the Pretended Assembly at St. Andrews and Dundee, &c. 
Printed 1652. Vindication of the Freedom and Lawfulness, and so of the 
Authority, of the late General Assembly, &c. Printed 1652. 


Mr. Dickson to a lady who came to visit him on his death- 
bed, "that the Protesters have been much truer prophets 
than we were." 1 It is needless to speculate on what might 
have been the result had the Church acted otherwise; it 
was the will of Providence that she should be subjected to 
a long period of trial; and in a little time, as Wodrow ex- 
presses it, " the whole honest Presbyterian ministers were 
struck at, and sent to the furnace to unite them." 

By the advice of his new counsellors Charles undertook 
an expedition into England, the result of which is matter of 
well-known history. His defeat at Worcester, in September, 
165 1, which Cromwell in his despatches called "a crowning 
mercy," was not such matter of congratulation to the king 
as that at Dunbar; it completely ruined his hopes; and., 
after many narrow escapes, he effected a passage to France, 
leaving the whole country at the mercy of the conqueror. 
It is hard to say whether our worthy fathers were more 
alarmed at the secular weapons of Cromwell's soldiers, or at 
the monstrous heresies which they imported. They beheld 
with dismay an army of sectaries impregnated with all the 
errors of the times, and quite as ready to combat the pastor 
in the pulpit, as to meet his people in the battlefield. Crom- 
well himself, who delighted as much as even James VI. in a 
theological debate, entered into a curious controversy with 
the clergy who had taken refuge in the castle of Edinburgh, 
which held out after the city was captured. While his sol- 
diers battered the ramparts with their artillery, the General 
attempted to storm the minds of the besieged theologians 
with his Independent missives, which were met on their part 
by regular and firm rejoinders. Meanwhile their pulpits 
were usurped by the gifted lay-preachers of the army, hold- 
ing forth in buff and bandoleers to crowded and astonished 
auditories. " General Lambert," says Nicholl, " having urgit 
the toun of Edinburgh councel to appropriate to him the 
East Kirk, being the best kirk in the toun for his exercise at 
sermound, the same was rendered to him for that use; 
wherein there was divers and sundrie sermounds preached, 
as weill by captanes, and lievtenants, and troupers of his 
army, as by ordinar pastors and English ministers; which 
captanes, commanders, and troupers, when they enterit the 

1 Wodrow's Anal. MS. 


pulpits, did not observe our Scots forms, bot when they 
ascended, they enterit the pulpits with their swords hung at 
their sides, and some carrying pistolls up with them; and 
after their entry, laid asyde within the pulpits their swords 
till they had ended their sermounds. It was thocht," adds 
our simple annalist, " that these men war weill giftit, yet 
were not ordourlie callit according to the discipline observit 
within this kingdom of Scotland." 1 

In various places throughout the country Cromwell's sol- 
diers behaved very rudely. They would come into the 
churches during the time of service, take up their seat, by 
way of contempt, on the stool of repentance, and after ser- 
mon publicly challenge the minister to dispute with them on 
the doctrine which he had been preaching. 2 But the mini- 
sters generally got the advantage of these intruders, and even 
before Cromwell showed a becoming spirit. Though a pro- 
clamation had been issued prohibiting any to pray for King 
Charles, many of them continued to do so in spite of the 
prohibition, and even in the face of the soldiers, who threat- 
ened to fire on them if they attempted it. When Cromwell 
came to Glasgow the magistrates and some of the ministers 
fled at the first news of his approach. Among those who 
remained was Mr. Zachary Boyd, famous for his extraordi- 
nary translation of the Bible into metre. This divine, nothing 
daunted by the presence of Cromwell and his soldiers, who 
came to hear him, " railed on them all to their face in the 
High Church." Tradition informs us that Cromwell's secre- 
tary was so annoyed with the plainness of the worthy para- 
phrast, that he asked leave in a whisper, " to pistol the 
scoundrel." " No, no," said the Protector, " we will manage 
him in another way." In the evening he asked the clergy 
to sup with him, and concluded the entertainment, it is said, 
with an incredibly long prayer. 3 Cromwell, it would appear, 
could stand a sermon levelled at his civil authority better 
than a reflection on his powers as a theological disputant. 
Marching into a meeting of the ministers in Edinburgh on 
one occasion, he made a harangue to them nearly an hour 

1 Nicholl's Diary, ad. an. 165 1; Bannatvne edit. 

2 Lamont's Diary, p. 58. 

3 MSS. in Adv. Lib.; Browns History of Glasgow, p. 104; Baillie, 
ii- 359- 

1653.] Cromwell's encroachments. 241 

in length, in his usual style of rhapsody, and copiously inter- 
larded with quotations from Scripture. The members looked 
at each other in bewildered amazement, till at length an old 
minister, Mr. John Semple, of Carsphairn, rose up and said : 
" Moderator, I hardly know what the gentleman wald be at 
in this long discourse; but one thing I am sure of, he was 
perverting the Scripture." For this speech the honest mini- 
ster was punished by six months' imprisonment. 1 

The General Assembly, however, was a court too free in 
its constitution to suit the temper of Cromwell, any more 
than that of James or Charles. The successful dictator, 
who had dissolved the Long Parliament, and openly scoffed 
at Magna Charta, was not likely to suffer the continuance 
of an Assembly, the members of which had been so active 
for the king. Accordingly, on the 20th of July, 1653, when 
the General Assembly had convened in Edinburgh, and the 
clerk was beginning to call the roll, the church in which they 
met was surrounded by a troop of horse, under the command 
of Lieutenant-colonel Cottrel, who, with another officer, 
entered the Assembly, and standing upon a bench, demanded 
to know r by whose authority they had met — whether by au- 
thority of the late parliament, or of their late king, or of the 
Protector? Mr. David Dickson, the moderator, replied 
that they were an ecclesiastical synod, a spiritual court of 
Christ, which meddled not with anything civil, and that 
their authority was from God, and confirmed by the laws of 
the land yet unrepealed. The colonel then demanded a list 
of the members, which the moderator told him he should 
get, if he would have a little patience till they had called 
the roll; but Cottrel declared this would be too tedious an 
affair, and ordered them to be gone, otherwise he had in- 
structions how to proceed. Upon this, the moderator, in 
the name of the Assembly, protested against such unexampled 
violence, and was proceeding to dissolve the meeting with 
prayer, when he was rudely interrupted, and ordered to the 
door; a mandate with which he and the rest of the Assembly 
at last complied. 2 " He led us all through the whole streets," 
says Baillie, " a mile out of the town, encompassing us with 
foot companions of musketeers and horsemen — all the people 
gazing and mourning as at the saddest spectacle they had 

1 Wodrow's Anal. MS. 2 Lamont's Diarv, p. 69. 

' 16 


ever seen. When he had led us a mile without the town, 
he then declared what further he had in commission; — That 
we should not dare to meet any more above three in num- 
ber; and that, against eight o'clock to-morrow, Ave should 
depart the town, under pain of being guilty of breaking the 
public peace; and the day following we were commanded off 
the town, under the pain of present imprisonment. Thus," 
adds Baillie, " our General Assembly, the glory and strength 
of our church upon earth, is by your soldiery crushed and 
trode under foot, without the least provocation from us, at 
this time, in word or deed." 1 

This unconstitutional encroachment, though it came with 
a bad grace from one who boasted himself the patron of 
toleration and liberty of conscience, was, after all, the less 
to be regretted at this period, as the meetings of the church 
courts were chiefly occupied with unseemly discussions 
between the Resolutioners and Protesters. The melancholy 
consequences of this breach in the Scottish Church soon 
became apparent after the defeat of Charles had subjected 
the whole of Scotland to the arms of Cromwell. The 
English conquerors, as was natural, were partial to the 
Protesters, who had been opposed to the party that brought 
over the king; and Cromwell endeavoured, by all the arts 
of his masterly policy, to gain them over to his interests. 
He succeeded in inducing some of them to take the tender, 
which was an acknowledgment of his authority and that of 
the English commonwealth without a king or House of Lords. 
With great difficulty he prevailed upon them, and ultimately 
on the Resolutioners also, to cease praying for King Charles ; 
but Mr. Patrick Gillespie was the first, and we believe the 
only, minister in Scotland who publicly prayed for the Pro- 
tector. Mr. Gillespie was, it may be presumed, a great 
favourite with the usurper, and he, with some of his brethren, 
received a commission in 1655, empowering them to settle 
the affairs of the Kirk. In this document, it is somewhat 
curious to find that Cromwell declares himself clearly in 
favour of an established church. " Being thoroughly sens- 
ible," his highness says, " that whatsoever union of nations 
is made where the true religion is not the foundation 
thereof, it will prove tottering and unstable, he hath there - 

1 Baillic's Letters, ii. 369. 


fore expressly commanded his council here to endeavour 
the promoting the preaching of the gospel, and the power 
of true religion and holiness; and to take care that the usual 
maintenance here be received and enjoyed by such ministers 
as are of a holy and unblamable conversation, disposed to 
live peaceably under the present government, are able and 
fit to preach the gospel, and shall be approved according to 
an ordinance of his highness of the 8th of August, 1654." 1 
It appears from this commission that Cromwell was deter- 
mined to be patron-general to the whole Church of Scotland ; 
it is obviously so framed as to admit only such as were Pro- 
testers; and what is very curious, in the ordinance to which 
he refers, with the view of securing his own men, it is ex- 
pressly provided that, in the induction of ministers, "respect 
shall be had to the choice of the more sober and godly sort 
of the people, although the same should not prove to be the greater 
part" — a somewhat arbitrary and invidious distinction, which, 
it must be allowed, left ample discretion to those who were 
intrusted with the administration. 

It does not appear that the Protesters availed themselves 
of the power with which this commission invested them; 2 
though it is certain that very unseemly contests happened 
at various settlements about this period, particularly in the 
west country, where the protesting party mustered very 
strong. Baillie has given some very lamentable accounts of 
the intrusion of ministers upon congregations by that party, 
with the aid of the English soldiery; but it must be remem- 
bered that this writer was a bitter opponent of the Protesters, 
and he is chargeable with having not only exaggerated their 
conduct, but resorted to very unworthy means to defeat the 
negotiations which were set on foot for healing, the breach 
between them and their brethren the Resolutioners. It is 
but justice to add, that the great body of the Protesters were 
far from being favourable to republicanism or to the usurpa- 
tion of Cromwell. Lamont informs us, in his Diary, that at 
a communion at Sconie in Fife, where Alexander Moncrieft 
and Samuel Rutherford officiated, "all that had taken the 

1 Nicholl's Diary, pp. 163-166. 

2 A considerable party among the Protesters, including Warriston and 
James Guthrie, were opposed to this ordinance; and very few settlements 
took plage under it. {Baillie s Letters, and Macward's Papers.) 


tender were debarred from the table, as also the English." 
The same scrupulosity was not felt by Mr. James Sharp, who 
afterwards, as Archbishop of St. Andrews, rendered himself 
infamous in history for the persecution of his brethren ; he 
swallowed the fender, and paid his court to the usurper, with 
the same ease that he afterwards renounced the covenant, 
and truckled to the king. James Guthrie, on the other 
hand, whose death he had a share in procuring, though a 
Protester, not only refused the tender, but incurred consid- 
erable risk in maintaining his loyalty. " I have it from good 
hands," says Wodrow, "that Mr. Guthrie defended the king's 
right in public debate with Hugh Peters, Oliver's chaplain, 
and from the pulpit he asserted the king's title in the hearing 
of the English officers." 1 

These dissensions among the ministers must have been 
unfavourable to the interests of religion. The Protesters, 
who had been deposed, continued to exercise their ministry, 
and each party held communion exclusively with those of 
their own sentiments. On too many occasions the pulpit 
was converted into an arena of contention ; and the people 
beheld the spectacle, hitherto unknown in Scotland, of min- 
isters preaching, and even praying, against each other. In 
September, 1655, Patrick Gillespie, who was principal of 
Glasgow College, having come to Edinburgh, was invited by 
Mr. Stirling, a Protester, to preach for him in the West Kirk. 
The rest of the ministers, hearing of it, refused to counten- 
ance him with their presence. " Mr. Patrick," says honest 
Xicholl, " at his coming to the pulpit, was interuptit by ane 
of the late king's servants, called captane Melvill, wha, sitting 
near to the pulpitt, did ryse and call to him, saying, ' Mr. 
Gillespy, how dar ye cum thair to the pulpitt to teach and 
preach? Ye aught not to cum thair, because ye are deposed 
from the ministrie by the General Assemblie, and ye have 
been ane enymie and traitour both to kirk and kingdome !' 
and sum more to that purpose; and with that he raise and 
went out of the church, and sindry uthers with him, alleging, 
that he aucht not to be heard in pulpitt, being a deposed 
minister. Yet Mr. Patrick Gillespy, not being much dasched, 
proceedit, and after a short prayer, read his text, quhilk was 
the 29th verse of the 26 chaptour of the Acts of the Apos- 
Wodrow's Hist. i. 163, Bums' edit 

1655.] nicholl's grievances. 245 

ties, in these words: 'And Paul said, I wald to God that 
not only thow, but also all that heir me this day, both war 
almost and altogidder such as I am, except these bands.'" 1 

This was no doubt sufficiently deplorable. But each party 
was disposed to exaggerate the public evils. Nicholl, who 
is a stanch loyalist, complains grievously of the increase of 
crime in Scotland during this period; but indeed little weight 
can be attached to the opinions of this writer, who betrays 
great weakness of mind. The following specimens of his 
lugubrious reflections are rather amusing. He complains 
bitterly of the taxes levied in Edinburgh for the support of 
the English army, especially the plack laid on the pint of 
ale — for the imposition of which he seriously considers a 
storm of wind and rain which happened, as a judgment on 
the city! "And then," says he, "thair wyne, aill, and beir 
were all sophisticat — drawn over and kirned with milk, brim- 
stone, and uther ingrediants; the aill made strong and heidy 
with hemp seed, coriander seed, Turkie pepper, sute, salt, 
and uther sophistications. Whairwith the magistrates of 
Edinburgh did take no ordour; nather yit with blown mut- 
ton, corrupt veill and flesche ; nor yit with fusted breid and 
lycht loaves, and with fals missoures and wechts." " Mair- 
over," he adds, " befoir the English airmy came into Scot- 
land, there was a lecture every day in the afternune at the 
ringing of the four hour bell, quhilk did much good both to 
the soull and body; the soull being edifeit and fed by the 
word, and the body withheld in from unnecessary bibbing, 
quhilk at that hour of the day was in use and custome." 
But what distressed him most of all was, that notwithstand- 
ing of all these burdens, the ladies dressed as fine as ever: 
"The moir poverty, the pryde of men much moir aboundit; 
for at this time it was daylie seen that gentill-women and 
burgessis wyffes haid moir gold and silver about thair gown 
and wylicoat tails, than thair husbands had in thair purses 
and coffers!" 2 

And yet, notwithstanding some public grievances, which, 
after all, were not more than might have been expected in a 
country occupied by a victorious enemy," and notwithstand- 

1 Nicholl's Diary, ad. an. 1656. - Ibid. pp. 168, 170, 189. 
3 It is generally allowed that public justice was never more impartially 
executed than during Cromwell's government in Scotland; and it is even said 


ing the prevalent heats and divisions which must have frus- 
trated to a great degree the good effects of the Reformation, 
it appears from the most indubitable evidence, that religion 
prospered in no ordinary measure during the time of this in- 
vasion. " It is true," says Kirkton, " that they did not per- 
mit the General Assembly to sit (and in this I believe they 
did no bad office, for both the authority of that meeting was 
denied by the Protesters, and the Assembly seemed to be 
more set upon establishing themselves than promoting reli- 
gion) : also, the division of the Church betwixt Protesters 
and Resolvers continued for six or seven years with far more 
heat than became them; and errors in some places infected 
some few; yet were all these losses inconsiderable in regard 
of the great success the word preached had in sanctifying 
the people of the nation; and I verily believe there were 
more souls converted to Christ in that short period of time 
than in any season since the Reformation, though of triple 
its duration. Nor was there ever greater purity and plenty 
of the means of grace. Ministers were painful; people were 
diligent. So, truly, religion was at that time in very good 
case, and the Lord present in Scotland, though in a cloud." 
Again, referring to the state of Scotland before the Restora- 
tion, he has these remarkable words: "At the king's return 
every parish had a minister, every village had a school, every 
family almost had a Bible — yea, in most of the country all 
the children of age could read the Scriptures, and were pro- 
vided of Bibles either by their parents or ministers. Every 
minister was a very full professor of the reformed religion, 
according to the large Confession of Faith framed at "West- 
minster. None of them might be scandalous in their con- 
versation, or negligent in their office, so long as a presby- 
terie stood. I have lived many years in a parish where I 
never heard an oath; and you might have ridden many 
miles before you heard any. Also, you could not, for a 
great part of the country, have lodged in a family where the 

that the decisions of the English judges whom he set up were more agreeable 
to the spirit and principles of the Scots law than the previous decisions of 
our native judges had been. A young lawyer making this observation to a 
Scots judge, who died many years ago, received this singular reply: "No 
thanks to them! they had neither kith nor kin in the country: take that out 
of the way, and I think I could be a good judge myself." (Brown's Hist. 
of Glasgow, p. 114.) 


Lord was not worshipped by reading, singing, and public 
prayer. Nobody complained more of our Church govern- 
ment than our taverners; whose ordinary lamentation was — 
their trade was broke, people were become so sober!" 1 

This high testimony is fully borne out by that of other 
witnesses, as unimpeachable as honest Kirkton. They tell 
us what fell under their own observation; and those must 
have been no mean attainments, either in piety or morality, 
which came up to the standard required by the Presby- 
terians of these times. 2 No doubt many hypocrites may 
have been concealed under the mask of rigorous devotion; 
but, whatever might be the case in England during the same 
period, it is certain that hypocrisy was not then the reigning 
vice in Scotland. We grant that crimes and outbreakings 
of a very flagrant nature were occasionally taking place, 
which some, not considering the rude state of society at the 
time, would set down as a proof of its general demoraliza- 
tion. It is certain, too, that immediately before the Restora- 
tion a sad declension became apparent, which was the more 
remarked from its contrast with the previous prosperity. 
But there can be no question that the piety of that period 
was both more intense and more widely diffused than it has 
ever since been in Scotland. It is not by looking into the 
records of church courts, which indeed almost supplied the 
place of courts of police, nor into the "Acknowledgments 
of Sins," published about that period, that we can form a 
proper estimate of the moral state of the country. Such 
documents only serve to show that in those days the disci- 
pline of the Church was administered with a fidelity which 
is now too little known, though not a whit less needed, and 
that our fathers were affected by the existence of public 
evils which are no longer so candidly acknowledged, only 
because they are not so deeply laid to heart. 

An English merchant, who had occasion to visit Scotland 

1 Kirkton's Hist, of the Church of Scotland, pp. 63, 64. 

2 "Old Mr. Hutcheson, minister at Killellan, used "to say to Mr. Wodrow, 
' When I compare the times before the Restoration with the times since the 
Revolution, I must own that the young ministers preach accurately and 
methodically, but there was far more of the power and efficacy of the Spirit 
and the grace of God went along with sermons in those days than now; and, 
for my part (all the glory be to God!) I seldom set my foot in a pulpit in 
those times but I had notice of some blessed effects of the Word.'" (< 
Hist. Collections, i. 315.) 


in the way of business about the year 1650, happened to hear 
three of the most eminent of the Scottish ministers of that 
age — Robert Blair, Samuel Rutherford, and David Dickson. 
Being asked, on his return, what news he had brought from 
Scotland, the gentleman, who had never shown any sense of 
religion before, replied, "Great and good news! I went to 
St. Andrews, where I heard a sweet majestic-looking man 
(Blair); and he showed me the majesty of God. After him, 
I heard a little fair man (Rutherford); and he showed me 
the loveliness of Christ. I then went to Irvine, where I heard 
a well-favoured proper old man, with a long beard (Dickson); 
and that man showed me all my heart" " The whole Gene- 
ral Assembly," says Wodrow, " could not have given a better 
character of the three men." 1 

Robert Blair we had occasion to notice before. He was 
a man of mild and amiable temper, and was exceedingly 
active in endeavouring to heal the unhappy dissensions be- 
tween the Resolutioners and Protesters, in which he pro- 
fessed to be neutral. Mr. Blair was originally settled at 
Bangor in Ireland, on which occasion, as he refused to be 
ordained after the Prelatic form, the bishop of the diocese 
agreed to be present with the other ministers only in the 
character of a presbyter. Driven by a less charitable bishop 
from Ireland, he took refuge in his native country, where 
he was first settled at Ayr, and afterwards translated to St. 
Andrews. Polite and affable in his manners, he was chosen 
by Charles I., after the death of Henderson, as his chaplain 
in Scotland; an office which he discharged with the most 
scrupulous fidelity. He was a shrewd observer of character. 
When Cromwell came to Edinburgh, he and Guthrie and 
Dickson were deputed to hold a conference with the Gene- 
ral. Blair, who was best acquainted with him, begged him 
to answer three questions. " What was his opinion of mo- 
narchical government?" Oliver replied that he was favour- 
able to monarchy. "What did he think anent toleration?" 
He answered as confidently that he was against toleration. 
"What Avas his judgment about the government of the 
Church?" "Ah, now, Mr. Blair," said Cromwell, "you 
article me too severely; you must pardon me that I give you 
not a present answer to that question." On retiring, Mr. 
1 Wodrow's MSS„ Adv. Lib. 


Dickson said, " 1 am glad to hear this man speak no worse;" 
to which Blair replied, "If you knew him as well as I, you 
would not believe one word he says; for he is an egregious 
dissembler." 1 

Samuel Rutherford is one of those characters whom every 
one thinks he should know by his writings as familiarly as if 
he had seen him face to face. Eager, ethereal, and imagina- 
tive, ever soaring and singing, the high notes of his devotion 
fall down on the ear with a singular effect, as if the music 
came from heaven rather than from earth. 2 Rutherford was 
the most popular preacher of his day; but it is not so gene- 
rally known that he was as much distinguished for his learn- 
ing and metaphysical attainments as for his eloquence and 
devotion. He received invitations to the chair of philosophy 
in more than one of the foreign universities; but such was 
his love to his native country, that he would not desert her 
in the midst of her troubles. The following anecdote of his 
infancy, though it approaches the marvellous, is so charac- 
teristic of the future man and the age in which he lived, that 
it deserves to be preserved. While amusing himself with 
some of his companions, Samuel, then a mere child, fell 
into a deep well: the rest of the children ran off to alarm 
his parents, who, on reaching the spot, were astonished to 
find him seated on an adjoining hillock, cold and dripping. 
On being questioned how he had got there he replied, that 
" a bonnie white man came and drew him out of the well." 
The minutest particulars concerning such a person are inter- 
esting: the following are curious: — "I have known many 
great and good ministers in this Church," said an aged con- 
temporary pastor who survived the Revolution, "but for 
such a piece of clay as Mr. Rutherford was, I never knew 
one in Scotland like him, to whom so many great gifts were 
given; for he seemed to be altogether taken up with every- 
thing good, and excellent, and useful. He seemed to be 
always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, 
always catechising, always writing and studying. He had 
two quick eyes, and when he walked it was observed that 

1 Memoirs of Blair, p. 107. 

2 His Letters, with all their faults, which are those of the age, have excel- 
lences which must be felt to the end of time. " Hold off the Bible," said 
Richard Baxter, "such a book the world never saw the like." 


he held aye his face upward. He had a strange utterance 
in the pulpit, a kind of skreigh that I never heard the like. 
Many times I thought he would have flown out of the pulpit 
when he came to speak of Jesus Christ. He was never in 
his right element but when he was commending him. He 
would have fallen asleep in bed speaking of Christ." 1 
Rutherford was a stanch Protester; but controversy, though 
lie excelled in it, seemed to be alien to his nature. " One 
day when preaching in Edinburgh, after dwelling for some 
time on the differences of the day, he broke out with — ''Woe 
is unto us for these sad divisions, that make us lose the fair 
scent of the Rose of Sharon!' and then he went on com- 
mending Christ, going over all his precious styles and titles 
about a quarter of an hour; upon which the laird of Glander- 
ston said in a loud whisper, 'Ay, now you are right — hold 
you there!'" 2 Rutherford died in 1661, shortly after his 
book called Lex Rex was burned by the hangman at Edin- 
burgh, and at the gates of the new college of St. Andrews, 
where he was regent and professor of divinity. 3 He departed 
just in time to avoid an ignominious death; for though 
everybody knew he was dying, the council had with impo- 
tent malice summoned him to appear before them at Edin- 
burgh on a charge of high treason. When the citation came, 
he said, " Tell them I have got a summons already before a 
superior judge and judicatory, and I behove to answer my 
first summons; and ere your day arrive, I will be where few 
kings and great folks come." When they returned and re- 
ported that he was dying, the parliament, with a few dissent- 
ing voices, voted that he should not be allowed to die in the 
college! Upon this Lord Burleigh said, "Ye have voted 
that honest man out of his college, but ye cannot vote him 
out of heaven." Some of them profanely remarked, "he 
would never win there; hell was too good for him." " I 
wish I were as sure of heaven as he is," replied Burleigh; 
"I would think myself happy to get a gripe of his sleeve to 
haul me in?* Among his brethren who came to pray with 

1 Patrick Simpson, apud Wodrow's MSS. "Wodrow's Anal. MS. iv. 

3 " It was much easier to burn the book than to answer it," says Wodrow. 
When Charles II. read Lex Rex, he said, with his native shrewdness, 
that it would scarcely ever get an answer; and his words have proved true. 

4 Walker's Remains, p. 171; Reid's Memoirs of the Divines in the Assembly 
at Westminster. 

1655-60.] RUTHERFORD — DICKSON. 251 

him on his death-bed, were Mr. Wood, a Resolutioner, but 
an excellent man, and Mr. Honeyinan, who afterwards was 
made a bishop, and distinguished himself for his opposition 
to the cause of God. It was observed that when Mr. Wood 
prayed, the dying man was not much affected; but when 
Honeyman was engaged, he wept all the time of the prayer. 
Being afterwards asked his reason for this, he replied, " Mr. 
Wood and I will meet again, though we be now to part; but 
alas for poor Honeyman! he and I will never meet again in 
another world; and this made me weep." 1 When dying he 
frequently repeated, " Oh for arms to embrace him ! oh for 
a well-tuned harp ! I hear him saying to me, Come up 
hither!" "And thus," says Howie, 2 "the renowned eagle 
took its flight into the mountains of spices." 

David Dick or Dickson was a very different character, yet 
almost equally eminent. We have already seen the success 
which accompanied his ministrations when at Irvine. He 
was afterwards translated, first to Glasgow, and afterwards to 
Edinburgh; in both of which cities he officiated as professor 
of divinity. His contemporaries have preserved many of his 
remarkable sayings, which show him to have been a man of 
great shrewdness and sagacity, mixed with a peculiar vein of 
humour. He was singularly successful in dissecting the 
human heart, and winning souls to the Redeemer. Mr. 
Dickson took an active share in the disputes between the 
Resolutioners and Protesters, in which he supported the 
former party, though he lived to see and confess that they 
had been completely deceived. He was a man of strong 
nerve and undaunted resolution in the discharge of his duty, 
of which the following anecdote may serve as an illustration : 
On one occasion, when riding between Edinburgh and 
Glasgow, he was attacked by robbers. Instead of giving 
way to his fears, Dickson boldly admonished them of their 
danger in regard to their souls, and concluded by earnestly 
exhorting them to try some other profession more safe and 
creditable than that in which they were engaged. Some 
years after this, when quietly seated in the College of Edin- 
burgh, he was surprised by receiving the present of a pipe of 

1 Wodrow's MSS. 

2 Using an expression' of Burgess in his funeral sermon on Robert 


wine accompanied with a message that the gentleman who 
sent it requested the pleasure of drinking a glass of the wine 
with him next evening in his study. The request was 
granted; and, in the course of conversation, the gentleman, 
after finding that the minister retained no recollection of hav- 
ing seen him before, informed him that he was one of the 
robbers who had attacked him — that he had been seriously 
impressed by his admonition — and that, having adopted his 
advice, he had prospered in foreign trade, and now came to 
thank his benefactor. 

But, perhaps, one of the noblest characters of the period, 
though less known, was Mr. Robert Douglas, minister of 
Edinburgh. He had formerly been a chaplain in the army 
of Gustavus Adolphus; and when leaving his service, that 
celebrated prince and warrior pronounced the following 
eulogium on his character: ''There goes a man who, for 
wisdom and prudence, might be a counsellor to any king in 
Europe; who, for gravity, might be a moderator to any 
assembly in the world; and who, for his skill in military 
affairs, might be the general of any army." Like many of 
the ministers of this period, he was connected by birth with 
some of the best families in the land. Majestic in his 
appearance, and princely in his bearing, there was something 
so authoritative about him, that one has said he never could 
look at him without a sensation of awe. Though a Resolu- 
tioner, he took an active part in endeavouring to secure the 
liberties of the Church of Scotland after the Restoration, and 
carried on a correspondence with James Sharp, when in 
London, in which the designs of that unhappy apostate were 
artfully covered over with high professions of regard to the 
Presbyterian interest. Mr. Douglas, though deceived for a 
time by Sharp's duplicity, at length discovered his real char- 
acter. We are informed, that when Sharp returned to Scot- 
land, affecting no ambition for the Prelacy, he pressed the 
acceptance of the see of St. Andrews upon Mr. Douglas. 
lie told him he clearly perceived that the king was determined 
on introducing Episcopacy, and that he knew none fitter for 
the primacy than Mr. Douglas, who had better accept, lest 
a worse should be appointed. The honest Presbyterian saw 
into the secret soul of the hypocrite; and when he had given 
his own decided refusal, demanded of his former friend what 

1655-60.] ROBERT DOUGLAS. 253 

he would do himself were the offer made lo him. Sharp 
hesitated, and rose to take leave. Douglas accompanied 
him to the door. " James," said he, " I perceive you are 
clear — I see you will engage — you will be Archbishop of St. 
Andrews: take it, then," he added, laying his hand on 
Sharp's shoulder, " and the curse of God with it/" 1 

" The subject," says Sir Walter Scott, relating this scene, 
"might suit a painter." We may add, with equal truth, that 
the subject affords matter of solemn warning to the Chris- 
tian minister, and of serious reflection to all. "Wherefore, 
let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he foil." 

1 Kirkton, p. 134. 


1660— 1663. 

Restoration of Charles — The Reformation overturned by the act rescissory 
— Trial and martyrdom of the Marquis of Argyll — Martyrdom of James 
Guthrie — Re-establishment of Episcopacy — Treachery of Sharp — Conse- 
cration of the Scottish bishops — Ejection of the Presbyterian ministers — 
Introduction of the citrates — Execution of Lord Warriston. 

We have now reached the period of the Restoration, when 
the Church of Scotland was thrown into the furnace of persecu- 
tion — when she was stripped of the glory of her Reformation, 
and subjected for a long series of years, like the Church of 
ancient Israel, to captivity and bondage. The restoration 
of Charles took place on the 29th of May, 1660. Never 
did a more rapid, more complete, or more melancholy change 
pass over the character of a people, than that which Scotland 
underwent at this era. " With the restoration of the king," 
says Bishop Burnet, "a spirit of extravagant joy spread over 
the nation, that brought on with it the throwing off the very 
profession of virtue and piety: all ended in entertainments 
and drunkenness, which overran the three kingdoms to such 
a degree, that it very much corrupted all their morals. 
Under the colour of drinking the king's health there were 
great disorders and much riot everywhere. Those who had 
been concerned in the former transactions thought they 
could not redeem themselves from the censures and jealous- 
ies that these brought on them, by any method that was 
more sure and more easy than by going into the stream, and 
laughing at all religion — telling or making stories to expose 
both themselves and their party, as impious and ridiculous." 1 

Charles was not long seated on the throne, when, abandon- 
ing himself to pleasure and debauchery, he proceeded to 
1 Burnet's History of his Own Times, i. 130. 


overturn the whole work of reformation, civil and ecclt ls [_ 
astical, which he had solemnly sworn to support. The fi e rs t 
Scottish parliament, usually called Middleton's parliame n t 
from the name of the commissioner, the Earl of Middletor', a 
dissipated and unprincipled character, sat down in Janua a r y 
1 66 1. The most shameless bribery and illegal influence w L( ere 
employed to pack this parliament with members favoura 3 ^ 
to the designs of the ruling powers. The first step for ' c t ] ie 
subversion of the civil and religious liberties of Scotlai u i 
and which laid the foundation of all the persecutions tl'JW 
followed, was the passing, early in the year 1661, of the " ac t 
of supremacy, for securing what was termed the royal pre \ r0 . 
gative, in other words, for making the king supreme judge e . [ n 
all matters civil and ecclesiastical. To this was after\va^ irc [ s 
added the oath of allegiance, which bound the subjeel - to 
acknowledge the supreme power of the king in all mat v t ers 
civil or religious, and made it high treason to deny ■ it. 
Wodrow has justly observed, that " slavish principles a< I to 
civil rights and liberty still lead the van to persecution >r f or 
conscience' sake." By these acts the servile parliament ' e ] a id 
the civil liberties of the nation at the feet of a despot/' but 
it is easy to see that they must have fallen with pec ' ^uliar 
severity on the conscientious, who had always conte^. Vied 
for the supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ as the only u Kino- 
of his Church. At last, tired of annulling acts of p , a rlia- 
ment passed during the previous period of the Reform;: \tion 
the Scottish councillors in the same year passed a swe' e e pi n£ r 
act annulling the parliaments themselves. By this me: c lS ure 
which was called the act rescissory, all the proceeding -,- s f or 
reformation between 1638 and 1650 were declared ] Rebel- 
lious and treasonable; the National Covenant and Sc,i e mn 
League were condemned as unlawful oaths; the Gk lS rr \v 
Assembly of 1638 denounced as an unlawful and seditious 
meeting; and the ordering of the government of the C jfhurch 
was declared to be an inherent right of the crown. In short 
all that had been done for religion and the reformat* F on f 
the Church during the second Reformation was completely 
annulled. " It was a maddening time," says Burnet, " l U v hen 
the men of affairs were perpetually drunk." Middleton *j him- 
self seldom came sober to the House; and it is well k^ n0 wn 
that this infamous act, which still stands unrepealed i \ n our 

2 5 



p C ilute-book, and which no modern reformer has ever pro- 
dded to repeal, was proposed by the miserable junto at a 
>bauch, and carried in the midst of drunken acclamations. 
s ]j It was not enough, however, that the work of reformation 
wa oulcl be buried under legal enactments; its grave must be 
filtered with the blood of the noblest of its supporters. The 
msM victim selected was the Marquis of Argyll. This noble- 
w Jm had protested against the execution of Charles I.; he 
] ie is among the first who invited Charles II. to Scotland, and 
n0 had placed the crown upon his head; but all this could 
w it atone for the active share he had taken during the civil 
co irs in guiding the affairs of the nation, and opposing the 
] ie urt. Charles held him in mortal aversion for the liberty 
and na d taken in privately warning him against malignants, 
cov i for heading the Presbyterians in imposing on him the 
on renant as the condition of their submission. Accordingly, 
res . going up to London to congratulate the king on his 
wal toration, Argyll was thrown into the Tower, and after- 
higrds transported by sea to Edinburgh, to stand trial for 
a o- a j treason. No less than fourteen charges were brought 
his nst him, all of which he so satisfactorily disproved, that 
the judges were on the point of sending to the king to state 
dem difficulty of finding any plausible ground for his con- 
men pation, when they were relieved from their embarrass 
was J D y an act of tne basest description. A rude knocking 
\ n c lieard at the parliament door, and a packet was handed 
p asSf ontaining a number of confidential letters which had 
sent : d between Argyll and Monk, and which the latter had 
chert° be produced at the trial. This cold-blooded trea- 
beer/ sealed the doom of the Marquis. Monk, who had 
marL the active agent of Cromwell, was made Duke of Albe- 
after-; and Argyll, who had only yielded to the usurper 

^resistance was vain, was sentenced to be beheaded ! 
an d - Marquis received his sentence with great serenity; 
se t t° n i ts being pronounced, said, " I had the honour to 
to a ie crown upon the king's head, and now he hastens me 
bootP etter crown than his own!" On arriving at the Tol- 
have 1 ne found his excellent lady waiting for him. " They 
he, ' given me till Monday to be with you, my dear," said 
ing therefore let us make for it." The afflicted wife, throw- 
lerself into his arms, could not refrain from expressing 


her indignation at the unjust sentence. " The Lord will re- 
quire it!" she cried, "the Lord will require it!" "Forbear, 
forbear," said the Marquis, seeing his friends dissolved in 
tears around him; "truly I pity them, they know not what 
they are doing. They may shut me in where they please, 
but they cannot shut out God from me. I am as content 
to be here as I was in the Tower; was as content there as I 
was when at liberty; and hope to be as content on the scaf- 
fold as any of them all." 

The Marquis was constitutionally timorous; but in prison, 
referring to this, he desired those about him to observe that 
the Lord had heard his prayers, and delivered him from all 
his fears; and, indeed, the efforts of his friends were chiefly 
needed to repress his ardent longing for dissolution. The 
night before his execution, being engaged in settling some 
of his worldly affairs, his heart became so overpowered with 
a sense of the love of God, that he could not conceal his 
emotions. " I thought," said he, " to have concealed the 
Lord's goodness — but it will not do. I am now ordering 
my worldly affairs, and God is sealing my charter to a better 
inheritance, and just now saying to me, Sou, be of good cheer; 
thy sins are forgiven thee." On repeating these words he 
burst into tears, and retired to the window to weep there; 
he then drew near the fire, and made as if he would stir it a 
little, to conceal his emotions — but all would not do; and, 
coming up to Mr. Hutchison, his chaplain, he said, " I think 
His kindness overcomes me; but God is good to me that 
he lets not out too much of it here, for he knows I could 
not bear it." 

Taking leave of his friends to go to the scaffold, the noble 
martyr said, " I could die like a Roman, but choose rather 
to die as a Christian. Come away, gentlemen; he that goes 
first goes cleanliest." On his way out of prison he requested 
an interview with James Guthrie, and embraced him in the 
most affectionate manner. " My lord," said Guthrie, " God 
hath been with you, he is with you, and will be with you; 
and such is my respect for your lordship, that, if I were not 
under sentence of death myself, I could cheerfully die for 
your lordship!" When on the scaffold he showed the same 
composure, and spoke at some length with great pertinency. 
He forgave all his enemies, and said he would condemn none. 



" God," said he, "hath laid engagements on Scotland. We 
are tied by covenants to religion and reformation; those who 
were then unborn are yet engaged; and it passeth the power 
of all the magistrates under heaven to absolve from the oath 
of God. These times are like to be either very sinning or 
suffering times; and let Christians make their choice; there 
is a sad dilemma in the business, sin or suffer; and surely 
he that will choose the better part will choose to suffer. 
Others that will choose to sin will not escape suffering; they 
shall suffer, but perhaps not as I do (pointing to the maiden, 
the instrument of execution), but worse. Mine is but tem- 
poral, theirs shall be eternal. When I shall be singing, they 
shall be howling. I have no more to say but to beg the 
Lord, that when I go away, he would bless every one that 
stayeth behind." 

On approaching the maiden Mr. Hutchison said, u My 
lord, now hold your grip sicker" — meaning that he should 
hold fast his confidence in Christ. Argyll answered, " Mr. 
Hutchison, you know what I said: I am not afraid to be 
surprised by fear." At this awful moment, his physician 
having touched his pulse, found it beating at its usual rate — 
calm and strong. He knelt down cheerfully, and having 
given the signal by lifting up his hand, the loaded knife of 
the maiden fell and struck off his head, which was affixed to 
the west end of the Tolbooth. 

Thus fell, on the 27th of May, 1661, the Marquis of Argyll, 
whose name and memory still bear the obloquy of the cause 
in which he suffered. Fain would we stay our narrative 10 
wipe off the foul slanders that have been heaped on him. 
We have only room to say, and we do it on the best autho- 
rity — in the words of honest Howie of Lochgoin — " That he 
had piety for a Christian, sense for a councillor, courage for 
a martyr, and a soul for a king. If ever any was, he might 
be said to be a true Scotsman." 1 

James Guthrie, minister of Stirling, was the next victim. 
He was a son of the laird of Guthrie, and descended of an 
ancient and honourable family. " Perhaps," says Wodrow, 
" he had the greatest mixture of fervent zeal and sweet calm- 
ness in his temper of any man in his time." When every 
one about him was excited, he remained unruffled; and it 

1 Scots Worthies, art. Marquis of Argyll. 


was usual with him, on such occasions, to say, " Enough of 
this; let us go to some other subject; we are warm, and can 
dispute no longer with advantage." His great crime in the 
eyes of the government was in reality the same as that for 
which Argyll had suffered — his eminent zeal in the cause of 
the Covenanted Reformation. He had been an active pro- 
moter of the measures of the Protesters; but what sealed his 
doom was his having been selected in 1650 to pronounce 
the sentence of excommunication against the Earl of Middle- 
ton, now the king's commissioner. A story is told, though 
with some variations, of a message having been sent to Mr. 
Guthrie by the king (some say by a nobleman), to delay pro- 
nouncing that sentence. The messenger arrived on Sabbath 
morning as he was putting on his cloak to go to church; 
and the last bell having been rung, Mr. Guthrie was perplexed, 
not knowing how to act on such a short notice. " My heart," 
said his wife, " what, the Lord gives you light and clearness 
to do, that do, without giving any positive answer to the 
messenger." He went, and to the messenger's astonishment 
pronounced the sentence of excommunication. Though the 
commission of the Church relaxed Middleton from it shortly 
after, yet it is believed he never forgave nor forgot what 
Guthrie did that day, and that this worthy man fell a sacrifice 
to his personal revenge, as well as to Sharp's ambition. 

His indictment charged him with various offences, amount- 
ing, in the eyes of his adversaries, to the charge of high 
treason; and among the rest, his being the author of a 
pamphlet, entitled "The Causes of the Lord's Wrath," 1 and 
his accession to the Westland remonstrance, formerly men- 
tioned. Guthrie's speech in his own defence was a most elo- 
quent and triumphant vindication; but neither the acknow- 
ledged piety of the man, the innocence of his character, nor 
the eloquence of his address, had any weight on his judges, 
who were determined that he should suffer, in order to strike 
terror into the rest, and pave the way for the innovations 
which they contemplated. He was condemned to be hanged 
at the cross of Edinburgh as a traitor, on the 1st of June, 
1 66 1, and thereafter his head to be struck off and affixed on 

1 For a full account of this and other works of the Protesters see "History 
of the Church of Scotland during- the Commonwealth," by the Rev. James 


the Netherbow; his estate to be confiscated, his coat-of-arms 
torn and reversed, and his children declared incapable, in all 
time coming, to enjoy any office, dignities, possessions, lands, 
or goods, movable or immovable, or anything within this 
kingdom." This dreadful doom he received with the utmost 
composure, saying, " My lords, let never this sentence affect 
you more than it does me; and let never my blood be 
required of the king's family." 

This good man seems to have laid his account with suf- 
fering in the cause long before there was any appearance of 
it; for it is told of him, that on coming into Edinburgh to 
subscribe the covenant, he met the executioner of the city 
as he was entering at the West Port, a circumstance which, 
incidental as it was, made such an impression on his mind, 
that he was heard to say, " he took the covenant with the 
resolution to suffer for the things contained in it, if the Lord 
should call him thereto." On the night before his execution, 
when sealing some letters, he was observed to stamp the wax 
crosswise, thus marring the impression. "I have no more 
to do," said he, "with coats-of-arms." At supper with his 
friends that night he was cheerful even to pleasantry. On 
his way to the scaffold, his arms being pinioned, he requested 
that one of them might be slackened so far as to allow him 
to support his tottering frame on a staff while walking down 
the street to the place of execution. On the fatal ladder 
"he spoke an hour," says Burnet, who saw him suffer, "with 
the composedness of one who was delivering a sermon, 
rather than his last words." Referring to the covenants he 
said, "These sacred, solemn, public oaths of God, I believe, 
can be loosed or dispensed by no person, party, or power 
upon earth, but are still binding upon these kingdoms, and 
will be so for ever hereafter; and are ratified and sealed 
by the conversion of many thousand souls since our entering 
thereinto. I take God to record upon my soul," he added, 
" I would not exchange this scaffold with the palace or mitre 
of the greatest prelate in Britain." He forewarned all of the 
wrath of God upon Scotland, and of the sufferings they might 
expect, if they continued faithful; and just before he was 
turned over, lifting the napkin from his face, he cried, " The 
covenants, the covenants shall yet be Scotland's reviving I" 1 

1 Wodrow, book i. sect. iv. Burnet, vol. i. p. 181. 


It would be improper to omit noticing the well-known 
anecdote, which is said to rest on good authority, that a 
considerable time after the death of Mr. Guthrie, when the 
Earl of Middleton was passing the Netherbow, a few drops 
of blood fell from the head of the martyr on the carriage, 
and that the marks could never be effaced. But the follow- 
ing is better deserving of attention, as an illustration of the 
profound respect in which the faithful clergy of Scotland 
were then held by the people. The headless corpse of James 
Guthrie was put. into a coffin and carried into the Old Kirk 
aisle, where it was decently prepared for interment by a 
number of ladies of high respectability. Some of them 
having been observed to dip their napkins in the blood of 
the martyr, Sir Archibald Primrose challenged them for doing 
so, representing it as a piece of popish superstition; when 
one of them, who was afterwards married to Sir Thomas 
Burnet, replied, " We intend not to abuse it to superstition 
or idolatry, but to hold that bloody napkin up to Heaven, 
with our address that the Lord would remember the innocent 
blood that is spilt." While thus employed, a genteel young 
man 1 approached, and poured on the body a phial of rich 
perfume, the odour of which filled the whole church. On 
observing this one of the ladies exclaimed, " God bless you, 
sir, for this labour of love which you have shown to the slain 
body of a servant of Jesus Christ!" The young man, with- 
out speaking a word, made a low bow and retired. 2 

Having thus removed out of the way two of the most 

1 It was afterwards discovered that this was Mr. George Stirling, who 
became eminent as a surgeon in Edinburgh. 

1 Wodrow's Analecta, MS. iv. — In a ' ' Tale of the Times of the Martyrs, " 
written by the late celebrated Edward Irving, which appeared in The Anni- 
versary for 1S2Q, there is an interesting account, given on the authority of a 
venerable old lady in Glasgow, of the manner in which James Guthrie's 
head was taken down from the pole to which it was affixed, and buried 
beside his body. According to Mr. Irving's account, this daring exploit 
was performed by a nephew of James Guthrie, who was affianced to the 
daughter of the provost of Edinburgh, a violent enemy of the Covenanters, 
and who was obliged to lice the country in consequence of the provost 
seeking his life as the forfeit of his noble conduct. The tale has certainly 
some foundation in fact; but both the dates and persons must have been 
confounded by tradition; for we have every reason to believe that Guthr'.e's 
head remained on the Netherbow Port for twenty-seven years, when it 
was taken down by Alexander Hamilton, then a student in Edinburgh, and 
afterwards Guthrie's successor in Stirling. {Scots Worthies, i. 248, M'Gavm's 


active and influential supporters of Presbytery, the court 
proceeded with its design of re-establishing Episcopacy. 
Though Charles had sworn, only about a year before, to 
maintain the Presbyterian discipline, he sent a letter in Au- 
gust, 1 66 1, to the Scottish council, in which, after reciting 
the inconveniences of that form of government, and as- 
serting its inconsistency with monarchy, he says, " Where- 
fore we declare our firm resolution to ititc?-pose our royal 
authority for restoring the Church of Scotland to its right 
government by bishops, as it was before the late troubles." 
A parliament was called, which, through intimidation, and 
various other means, was induced to approve of this resolu- 
tion; and a proclamation was immediately issued, announc- 
ing the restoration of the bishops, prohibiting meetings of 
synods and assemblies, and forbidding all preaching against 
the change, on pain of imprisonment. And thus, by the 
mere will and mandate of the king, and without consulting 
the Church in any form, Prelacy was again established in a 
land which had always opposed it, and where the former 
attempt to plant it had been followed with the most disas- 
trous consequences. 

Nothing leaves a darker blot on the history of our country 
than the ease and despatch with w r hich this change was 
eftected. When, in the beginning of the following year, 
presbyteries, and even sessions, were discharged from meet- 
ing until authorized by the bishops, the greater part of the 
presbyteries, instead of making a stand for their religious 
liberties, tamely submitted to the proclamation; so that the 
Presbyterians justly exposed themselves to the taunt which 
an English historian casts on them, that "Presbytery fell 
without the honour of a dissolution." It would be a great 
mistake, however, to suppose, because Prelacy met with so 
little resistance at its first introduction, that the body of the 
people were favourable to the change, or indifferent to their 
ancient polity. Many, no doubt, especially among the nobil- 
ity, had become wearied of Christ's yoke; many, too, worn 
out with intestine discords, were disposed to hail peace on 
almost any terms ; and the general licentiousness of manners 
introduced with the Restoration contributed greatly to foster 
these dispositions. But it was not to such causes that Prelacy 
was indebted for its triumph. It was brought in partly by 


stratagem, and partly by the force of royal proclamations, 
fenced with the terrors of imprisonment, confiscation, and 
the gibbet. The secret history of the time reveals the real 
source of these proclamations, in the plottings of a set of 
unprincipled courtiers, whose sole object was to enrich 
themselves by the fines and confiscations of those who had 
taken an active share in the previous reforming period. For 
this purpose Scotland was excluded from the act of indemnity 
long after its benefits had been extended to England; and 
our country was left at the mercy of a succession of harpies, 
who first preyed upon her vitals, and then upon one another. 

The treachery of James Sharp has been already adverted 
to. To this person, who was at first minister of Crail, and 
afterwards promoted to the see of St. Andrews, the Church 
of Scotland had unhappily intrusted the management of her 
cause at court about the time of the Restoration, and he was 
sent to London for the express purpose of securing the 
preservation and liberty of the Presbyterian Establishment. 
While thus employed he was secretly gained over by some 
of the English High Church politicians, to enter into their 
measures for the re-establishment of Prelacy, and engaged 
to betray the Church which confided in him; expecting, as 
the reward of his treachery, to be made primate of all Scot- 
land. With a deep dissimulation, seldom equalled in the 
history of ecclesiastical crime, he carried on a correspond- 
ence with his brethren, in which he artfully concealed the 
intentions of government, lulled their suspicions, and pre- 
vented them from using any means to avoid the catastrophe, 
all under professions of the warmest devotion to the cause 
of Presbytery and the covenant. 1 When he came down to 
Scotland he practised the same deception so successfully, 
that his brethren never suspected his design till it was ripe 
for execution. 

It is doubtful, however, whether all these causes combined 
would have succeeded in prostrating the liberties of the 
Church, had they not been aided by the lamentable dissen- 
sion between the Resolutioners and Pro: esters within her 
own pale. This breach remained still unhealed; and it was 

1 This correspondence is preserved in the introduction to Wod row's 
History, where it will stand a monument of Sharp's infamy to the latest 


the policy of Sharp and others to prevent the two parties 
from coalescing. By their mutual jealousies they were pre- 
vented from joining in any common measure for the safety 
of the Church. In addition to all this, most of the eminent 
men who had guided her councils during the reforming 
period were now in the dust, or sinking under the weight of 
years. The Earl of Loudoun, the most eloquent and coura- 
geous of the champions of the covenant, died in March, 
1662. He knew that, next to the Marquis of Argyll, none 
was more obnoxious than he to the present rulers, and often 
entreated his excellent lady to pray that he might be re- 
moved by death before the next session of parliament; and 
his request was granted. Many of the old ministers died 
from pure grief at seeing the goodly fabric which had cost 
Scotland so much to rear, and which was hallowed in their 
eyes by so many sacred associations, threatened with destruc- 
tion. Among these we may notice Robert Baillie, principal 
of the University of Glasgow, to whose Letters we owe so 
much of our information regarding the preceding period. 
This excellent man, who was distinguished for his learning, 
and had done much for the advancement of the second 
Reformation, became latterly a keen partisan on the side of 
the Resolutioners ; and his prejudice against the Protesters 
has given a strong tinge to all his representations of them 
and their proceedings. But he lived to see the error into 
which his party had been led by their extreme loyalty. We 
are assured on unquestionable authority that " he died under 
a rooted aversion to Prelacy in this Church." 1 And he him- 
self, in the last of his Letters, expresses this sentiment in the 
most feeling manner: "We are in the most hard taking we 
have seen at any time. It is the matter of my daily grief, 
and I think it has brought all my bodily trouble on me, and 
I fear it shall do me more harm."- This was written in 
May. 1662, and in July of the same year his earthly troubles 
were ended. 

Still, however, with the exception of a few in the northern 
counties, the great body oi the people were attached to 
Presbyterianism ; a great proportion of the nobility and 
gentry were on its side; and as to the ministers, they were 
so decidedly Presbyterian, that out of all the presbyteries 
1 Wodrow, i. 128, foL 2 Baillie's Letters, ii. 462. 


and synods of Scotland, not one, with the exception of the 
synod of Aberdeen, disgraced itself by petitioning in favour of 
Prelacy. The defeat of Presbytery was owing, not so much 
to the fainting of the standard-bearers in the day of battle, 
as to their want of union, and their being outmanoeuvred by 
their opponents, who showed themselves greater adepts in 
policy and worldly wisdom — qualities which, however useful 
in their place, are not very becoming in the ministers of 
Christ, in whom we rather admire that simplicity of purpose 
which may often render them the dupes of worldly politi- 
cians, or even betray them into perilous positions. And 
when we consider that the system of Prelacy was thus in- 
truded on the nation without asking the consent of a single 
Church court, that its foundations were laid in blood, and 
that the country continued to struggle against it during all 
the twenty-eight years of its ill-omened existence, it is pre- 
posterous to allege that Prelacy was ever acknowledged by 
the Scottish people. Not the shadow of such an acknow- 
ledgment was ever made by the Church — not even such as 
was extorted during the reign of James VI. And without 
such an acknowledgment the mere act of government in 
thrusting Prelacy on the nation did not, and could not, 
make it the act of the Church. Whatever Erastians may 
say, the state could no more undo than it could create the 
Presbyterian Church of Scotland; which remained unaffected 
in her identity, though under a cloud and in temporary 
captivity till the Revolution, when " the captive daughter 
of Zion shook herself from the dust, and loosed herself from 
the bands of her neck." 

Prelacy having been established by law, it became neces- 
sary to provide Scotland with bishops. Of the old prelates 
none remained but one Sydserf, and he, it seems, was not 
deemed of sufficient dignity to confer Episcopal ordination, 
a "flower," says Kirkton, "not to be found in a Scottish 
garden;" so that four of the ministers chosen for this office, 
viz. Sharp, Fairfoul, Hamilton, and Leighton, were sum- 
moned to London, where the ceremony of ordination was 
performed in Westminster Abbey. To crown the disgrace 
of their defection, the English bishops insisted on their ac- 
knowledging the nullity of their Presbyterian orders, by sub- 
mitting to be ordained first deacons, then presbyters, and 


lastly, bishops. Sharp pretended at first to scruple at this 
degradation; but he soon submitted with the rest; on which 
the Bishop of London observed, that " it seemed to be Scots 
fashion to scruple at everything, and to swallow everything." 
If the bishop formed his opinion of our nation from the pre- 
sent sample, it was very natural so to express himself; for, 
with the exception of Leighton, every one of them had for- 
merly professed great opposition to that form of govern- 
ment in which they now assumed such a conspicuous share. 
Sharp, who was made Archbishop of St. Andrews, it is need- 
less to characterize. Burnet informs us that Fairfoul, who 
was made Archbishop of Glasgow, was a " factious man, 
insinuating and crafty; but he was a better physician than a 
divine. His life was scarce free from scandal; and he was 
eminent in nothing that belonged to his own function. He 
had not only sworn the covenant, but had persuaded others 
to do it. And when one objected to him that it went 
against his conscience, he answered, there were some very 
good medicines that could not be chewed, but were to be 
swallowed down." Hamilton, who was made Bishop of Gal- 
loway, had equally distinguished himself for his zeal in the 
cause of the covenant. Leighton, who was appointed to the 
diocese of Dunblane, was a character in every respect differ- 
ent from the rest. Evangelical in his doctrine, and latitudi- 
narian in his ecclesiastical views, " he did not think that the 
forms of government were settled by such positive laws as 
were unalterable, but looked on Episcopacy as the best form." 
The sanctity of his character, and amiableness of his man- 
ners, which have been quoted as the redeeming qualities of 
Scottish Prelacy, were in fact its exceptions; for on these 
very accounts he was disliked and suspected by Sharp and 
his associates, as a tool unfit tor their purposes. Leighton 
condemned and deplored the measures which were taken for 
obtruding Prelacy upon Scotland; and when the bishops 
returned to Edinburgh in a sort of triumphal procession, he 
left them in disgust before reaching the city, and entered it 
as privately as possible. 1 

1 " Leighton often said to me," says Burnet, " that in the whole progress 
of that affair there appeared such cross characters of an angry Providence, 
that how fully soever he was satisfied in his own mind as to Episcopacy 
itself, yet it seemed that God was against them, and that they were not like 
to be the men to build up his church ; so that the struggling about it seemed 


On the day after the arrival of the bishops, May 8, 1662, 
the parliament passed an act restoring them to all their 
ancient prerogatives, spiritual and temporal; another restor- 
ing patronage, and ordering all entrants to take collation 
from the bishop; and, not to burden the reader's memory 
with other acts rooting out every vestige of the previous 
reformation, they passed the following declaration, which 
all persons in public trust were required to subscribe, and 
which became a convenient engine of persecution: "I do 
sincerely affirm and declare, that I judge it unlawful for sub- 
jects, under pretext of reformation, or any other pretext 
whatsoever, to enter into leagues and covenants, or to take 
up arms against the king or those commissioned by him, 
and all those gatherings, petitions, &c, that were used in 
•the beginning and carrying on of the late troubles, were un- 
lawful and seditious. And particularly, that these oaths, 
whereof the one was commonly called the national covenant 
(as it was sworn and subscribed in the year 1638, and there- 
after), and the other entitled a solemn league and covenant, 
were, and are in themselves unlawful oaths; and that there 
lieth no obligation upon me, or any of the subjects, from the 
said oaths to endeavour any alteration of the government in 
Church or state, as it is now established by the laws of the 
kingdom." It was absurd enough to require a person not 
only to declare himself not bound by these covenants, but 
to pronounce absolution on all who had taken them. But 
the matter assumes a graver aspect when it is considered 
that God was a party in these engagements, and that by this 
shameful act not only were these sacred deeds condemned 
by the law of the land, but the subjects were compelled to 
perjure themselves by formally renouncing a solemn obliga- 
tion, which, if the matter of these covenants was lawful, 
unquestionably lay both on themselves and on the whole 

The spirit of- the ruling party was not long confined to 
parliamentary enactments. The 29th of May, 1662, being 

to him like a fighting against God. He who had the greatest hand in 
it (Sharp) proceeded with so much dissimulation; and the rest of the order 
were so mean and selfish; and the Earl of Middleton, with the other secular 
men that conducted it, were so openly impious and vicious, that it did cast 
a reproach on everything relating to religion, to see it managed by such 
instruments." (History of his Own Times, i. 201.) 


the anniversary of the king's restoration, was ordered to be 
kept as a day of public thanksgiving, or, as they profanely 
termed it, "a holiday to the Lord." On this day the cove- 
nants were torn in pieces at the Cross of Edinburgh by the 
hands of the common hangman. The town of Linlithgow 
at the same time signalized itself by an act of wanton insult 
on these sacred bonds still more revolting. After divine 
service the streets were filled with bonfires, and the fountain 
in the centre of the town was made to flow with wine. At 
the cross was erected an arch upon four pillars, on one side 
of which appeared the figure of an old hag with the cove- 
nant in her hand, and the inscription, " A glorious reforma- 
tion." On the top was another figure representing the devil, 
with this libel in his mouth, "Stand to the cause." On the 
king's health being drunk, fire was applied to the frame, and 
the whole was reduced to ashes amidst the shouts of a mob 
inflamed with liquor. This ignominious burning of the cove- 
nants was got up by the provost and minister of the place, 
both of whom had been Covenanters. By the more respect- 
able class of the inhabitants it was witnessed with horror, 
as a daring affront to the God of heaven. 

Still, though the Church courts, the official public organs 
of the Church's voice, had been closed, the ministers were 
allowed to occupy their pulpits; and it was deemed intoler- 
able by Sharp and his associates that they should do so 
without acknowledging their authority. Diocesan meetings 
were therefore appointed in the different districts assigned 
to the bishops; but these, except in the north, were very ill 
attended. At length the parliament ordained that all mini- 
sters should wait upon these Episcopal courts, on pain of 
being held contemners of royal authority. To enforce this 
act, the Earl of Middleton and his commission made a tour 
to the west country. The scenes of prodigality, debauchery, 
and profaneness which took place during this circuit were 
of such a kind as could not be rehearsed here without excit- 
ing feelings of intense disgust. On arriving at Glasgow, 
Fairfou], the archbishop, complained to Middleton that, 
notwithstanding the act of parliament, not one of the mini- 
sters had owned him as their bishop, and suggested to him 
the propriety of passing an act and proclamation, banishing 
all those ministers from their manses, parishes, and dioceses, 


who had been admitted since 1649, when patronage was 
abolished, unless they obtain a presentation from the lawful 
patron, and collation from the bishop of the diocese before 
the 1 st of November. This was the first step toward the 
persecution; and it will be observed that it commenced 
under pretence of enforcing the old obnoxious law of patron- 
age. Those who had been admitted since 1649 were of 
course young persons; they were men of piety, zeal, and 
popular talents; and having been admitted to their charges 
by the free call of the people, they were greatly esteemed 
and beloved. The council agreed to issue the proclamation 
on the 4th of October, thus giving them less than a month's 
warning. " Duke Hamilton told me," says Burnet, " they 
were all so d?'wik that day, that they were not capable of 
considering anything that was laid before them, and would 
hear of nothing but executing the law without any relenting 
or delay." And indeed it is difficult to conceive how any 
set of men in their sober senses could have adopted a 
course so infatuated, or so plainly fitted to alienate from any 
government the best men of the country, and enlist against 
them the best feelings of our nature. The military were 
ordered to pull the ministers out of their pulpits, if they 
should presume to go on with their functions. Sir James 
Lockhart, of Lee, alone protested against this mad step, as 
calculated only to augment the public odium against the 
bishops; and asserted that the young ministers, before they 
would acknowledge Episcopacy, would suffer more than the 
loss of their stipends. The archbishop maintained that there 
would not be ten in all his diocese who would refuse to com- 
ply. Middleton, who had no idea of men throwing them- 
selves and their families on the wide world for the sake of a 
good conscience, sneered at the bare supposition. To his 
utter amazement, and to the unspeakable mortification of the 
bishops, nearly four hundred ministers chose to be ejected 
from their charges rather than comply. Turned out of their 
homes in the depth of winter, and deprived of all mainten- 
ance, they exhibited to their congregations a firmness of 
principle which elevated and endeared them more than ever; 
while the sudden and simultaneous shutting up of four hun- 
dred churches in one day, by which almost the whole of the 
west, and a great part of the south of Scotland, were deprived 


of their pastors, and a third of the ministers of the Church 
silenced, did more to seal the doom of Prelacy, than any 
other plan that could have been devised. " The honest 
people," says Kirkton, ''encouraged their ministers to enter 
upon the course of suffering; and many in Scotland rejoiced 
to see their ministers give that proof of their sincerity; for 
there were some who affirmed that not twenty ministers in 
Scotland would lose their stipends for refusing to sit with a 

" Scotland," says Wodrow, " was never witness to such a 
Sabbath as the last on which those ministers preached: and 
I know no parallel to it save the 17th of August, to the 
Presbyterians in England." 1 The people were dissolved in 
tears, and at intervals as the minister proceeded there were 
loud wailings and involuntary bursts of sorrow. As an in- 
stance we may refer to the parish of Irongray, of which John 
Welsh was minister — a faithful and courageous champion of 
the covenant. An order was sent to apprehend him, which 
was executed by one Maxwell, a Papist. The whole parish 
assembled to convey their minister a little on his way, and 
the mournful procession followed him with tears and lamen- 
tations till he came to the water of Cluden, where he was 
to take horse. There he was beset by his affectionate par- 
ishioners, who clung to him on all sides, and refused to part 
with him. With a heart almost broken but resolved not to 
be detained, Mr. Welsh, after some of the ministers had 
knelt down and prayed, mounted his horse, the people still 
holding him. In order to extricate himself he dashed into 
the water and rode quickly away; but multitudes both of 
men and women rushed into the stream, and followed him 
on the other side as long as he was in sight, rending the air 
with their cries and lamentations.'- 3 

Another eminent minister expelled from his charge at this 
time, and who distinguished himself for the boldness with 
which he continued to preach in the fields, was John Black- 
ader, of Troqueer. One of his sons, then a mere child, 
relates with much simplicity what happened on this occa- 

1 St. Bartholomew's Day, when two thousand ministers were ejected for 
nonconformity — a stroke of policy from which the Church of England has 
not rprnvpred down to this day — and, perhaps, never will. 

' 2 Memoirs of John Blackader, p. 105. 


sion: "A party of the king's guard of horse, called Blew- 
benders, came from Dumfries to Troqueer to search for and 
apprehend my father, but found him not; for what occasion 
I know not. So soon as the party entered the close, and 
came into the house with cursing and swearing, we that were 
children were frightened out of our little wits and ran up 
stairs, and I among them; who, when I heard them all roar- 
ing in the room below like so many breathing devils, I had 
the childish curiosity to get down upon my belly, and peep 
through a hole in the floor above them, for to see what 
monsters of creatures they were; and it seems they were 
monsters indeed for cruelty; for one of them perceiving 
what I was doing, immediately drew his sword and thrust it 
up where I was peeping, so that the mark of the point was 
scarce an inch from the hole, though no thanks to the mur- 
dering ruffian, who designed to run it up through my eye. 
Immediately after, we were forced to pack up bag and bag- 
gage and remove to Glencairn, ten miles from Troqueer. 
We who were the children were put into cadgers' creels, 
where one of us cried out, coming through the Bridge-end 
of Dumfries, 'I'm banisht, I'm banisht!' One happened to 
ask, Who has banished ye, my bairn? He answered, 'Bite- 
the-sheep has banisht me.'" 1 

The next point with the bishops was to supply the vacant 
pulpits; but this was not so easily accomplished as the 
emptying of them had been. Few or none in the south 
could be induced to enter them, and the prelates were 
obliged to have recourse to the north country, where, ever 
since the days when James VI. summoned his "northern men" 
to outvote the Assembly, there has been a general accom- 
modation to despotic measures, whether it might be to obey 
the king, or to "please the laird." There they procured a 
number of raw young lads and hungry expectants, "unstudied 
and unbred," says Kirkton, "who had all the properties of 
Jeroboam's priests, miserable in the world, and unable to 
subsist, which made them so much long for a stipend. So 
they went to their churches with the same intention as a 
shepherd contracts for herding a flock of cattle. A gentle- 
man in the north, it is said, cursed the Presbyterian minis- 
ters, because, said he, ' since they left their churches, we 

1 Memoirs of John Blackader, p. 106. 


cannot get a lad to keep our cows; they turn all ministers.' " 
" They were the worst preachers I ever heard," says Bishop 
Burnet ; "they were ignorant to a reproach, and many of them 
were openly vicious. They were a disgrace to their orders 
and the sacred function; and were, indeed, the dregs and 
refust of the northern parts. Those of them who arose above 
contempt or scandal were men of such violent tempers that 
they were as much hated as the others were despised." In 
short, the patrons themselves were ashamed to present such 
creatures, and they were generally thrust in by the bishops. 

These were not the men likely to reconcile the people to 
the loss of their favourite pastors. We need not be surprised 
to hear, that in different churches attempts were made to 
resist their entrance; these, however, were chiefly by women 
and boys. At Irongray, the women, headed by one Mar- 
garet Smith, opposed the military who were guarding the 
curate, intrenching themselves behind the kirk-dyke, and 
fairly beating them off with stones. For this feat Margaret 
was brought into Edinburgh, and condemned to banishment; 
but she told her tale so innocently, that she was allowed to 
escape. Other women, who followed the same course in 
many other places, were condemned to do penance, by 
having papers stuck on their heads, and afterwards being 
severely whipped. These, Kirkton tells us, were " ordinarily 
the actions of the profane and ignorant, not approved by 
the sober and judicious Presbyterians;" and we may judge 
how strong the feeling was against the intruders, when further 
informed that careless fellows thought there was no " surer 
way of atoning for the excesses of the last night, than by 
insulting a curate the next morning." It was chiefly, too, 
by small annoyances that they showed their contempt for 
the curates, as they called them. Some would steal the 
tongue of the kirk-bell; others would barricade the door, so 
as to oblige the intruder to climb up literally by the window. 
A shepherd boy, having found a nest of ants, emptied them 
one day into the curate's large boots, as he was going to the 
pulpit; and then the sport of the mischievous urchins was to 
behold the reverend gentleman, after exhibiting a variety of 
antics, under the torture of the insects, obliged to bring his 
service to an abrupt conclusion. 1 Another instance of the 

1 Kirkton's History of the Church of Scotland, pp. 260, 261. 


same contempt for these worthless underlings may be record- 
ed: A curate in the west country, deeply mortified at the 
extreme thinness of his audience, sent a threatening message 
to the women, that if they did not make their appearance at 
the church next day he would inform against them. The 
women obeyed the mandate, but each came with a child in 
her arms; and the curate had not long proceeded in his ser- 
vice, when first one child began to cry, then another, till the 
whole joined in the chorus, and the voice of the preacher 
was drowned in a universal squall. It was in vain that he 
stormed and cursed at the women; they told him it was his 
own fault, and that they could, on no account, leave their 
children at home. 1 

Matters, however, soon assumed a more serious aspect. 
At Edinburgh the ministers were required either to comply 
with the present order of things, or desist from preaching, 
and retire from the city. The whole of them submitted to 
the sentence, except one Robert Lawrie, who, being the only 
minister left behind, as a sort of nucleus to the new race of 
ministers, was designated by the people the nest-egg. Prose- 
cutions were next set on foot against some of the ministers 
who had dared to preach against the defections of the times 
— among whom were Mr. Donald Cargill, Mr. Thomas 
Wylie, Mr. M'Kail, and Mr. John Brown of Wamphray, 
whose names are well known in the succeeding history. 
Many of the ministers escaped death by a voluntary banish- 
ment. 2 

1 Wodrow's Analecta, MS. 

2 Among others banished at this time was Mr. John Livingstone, minister 
of Ancrum, who soon afterwards died in Holland. The reader will recollect 
that it was he who was honoured as the chief instrument of the wonderful 
revival at the Kirk of Shotts in 1630. The case of this worthy man affords 
a striking illustration of the remark, which has been often verified, that true 
piety will generally lead even those who have taken no prominent share in 
ecclesiastical discussions, to act a conscientious part in public matters which 
involve religious principle. In a letter which he wrote to his parishioners, 
whom he was not permitted to revisit before his departure, he says - "I have 
often told you that, for my part, I could never make it a chief part of my 
work to insist upon the particular debates of the time, as being assured, that 
if a man drink in the knowledge and the main foundations of the Christian 
religion, and have the work of God's Spirit in his heart, to make him walk 
with God, and make conscience of his ways, such an one (except he be 
giddy with self-conceit) shall not readily mistake Christ's quarrel, to join 
either with a profane atheist party, or a fanatic atheist party; but the secret 
of the Lord will be with them that fear him, and he will show them his 



The fete of Archibald Johnston, Lord Warnston, who 

suffered about this time, deserves more than a passing notice. 
Besides affording a striking illustration of the instability of 
human greatness, it sets in a very strong light the spirit 
which animated the rulers of that dark period. Archibald 
Johnston makes his first appearance on the stage of public 
life in the famous Glasgow Assembly of 1638, when he was 
chosen clerk. A profound and accomplished lawyer, an elo- 
quent speaker, and of the most active business habits, he took 
a prominent share in all the subsequent proceedings of the 
Covenanters, and was among the chief leaders in promoting 
the league between Scotland and England. His zeal in this 
cause, and his success in thwarting all the machinations of 
the royal party, and bringing some of them, particularly Mon- 
trose, to deserved punishment, during the civil war, exposed 
him to the special vengeance of the government at the Re- 
storation. Their enmity to his person on these accounts knew 
no bounds, though they attempted to conceal it under the 
pretext of an indictment, charging him with having served 
under Cromwell, who had made him clerk-register, and ad- 
vanced him to the bench. Convinced that nothing would 
satisfy them but his blood, Warriston retreated to the Conti- 
nent, where he lived for some time in concealment His 
enemies, however, with the slow but sure determination of 
the blood-hound, tracked him out; and at last one of their 
emissaries, a worthless creature of the name of Murray, usu- 
ally called "crooked Murray," discovered the good old man 
at an exercise in which he always took much delight — at his 
prayers. Before this time, in addition to the infirmities of 
old age, he had been shamefully treated during an attack of 
illness at Hamburg, by Dr. Bates, one of the king's physicians, 
" who." says a writer that must have been acquainted with the 
facts, " intending to kill him, did prescribe unto him poison 

covenant. And I have thought it not far from a sure argument that a course 
is not apprxrven of God, when generally all they that are godly, and all pro- 
fane men turning penitent, scunner at it. and it may be cannot tell why: and 
generally all the profane, at the first sight, and all that had a profession 
of piety, when they turn loose, embrace it. and it may be cannot tell why. 
There may be diversity of judgment, and sometimes sharp debates among 
them that are going to heaven; but certainly one spirit guides the seed 
of the woman, and another spirit the seed of the serpent; and blessed are 
at know their Master's wiil, and do it; bless .ndure 

to the end.' 


for physic, and then caused to draw from this melancholy 
patient sixty ounces of blood, whereby he was brought near 
unto the gates of death, and made in a manner no man, hav- 
ing lost his memory, so that he could not remember what he 
had done or said a quarter of an hour before; in which con- 
dition he continued till his dying day." 1 In this melancholy 
condition, he was dragged on board ship, conducted from 
Leith bare-headed and on foot, and lodged in the tolbooth of 
Edinburgh. On being first brought before the council, the 
poor old man, broken with disease, and bewildered with his 
situation, began to supplicate his judges in the most moving 
tones for mercy; at which Sharp and the other bishops who 
were present raised an inhuman laugh, and insulted the 
enfeebled prisoner to his face. The scene had a differ- 
ent effect on the rest of the audience; for, says Sir George 
Mackenzie, " it moved all the spectators with a deep melan- 
choly; and the chancellor, reflecting upon the man's great 
parts, former esteem, and the great share he had in all the 
late revolutions, could not deny some tears to the frailty of 
silly mankind." 2 Warriston, however, afterwards recovered 
his self-possession, apologized to the court, on the grounds 
already mentioned, for his obvious weakness, and submitted 
with resignation to the sentence of death. While in prison 
the tenderness and spirituality of his frame, and the thank- 
fulness with which he received any little attention, gained the 
hearts even of those that had formerly hated him. His great 
concern was that he might be supported, and not left to faint 
in the hour of trial. On his way to the scaffold he frequently 
said to the people standing by, " Your prayers, your prayers." 
He delivered his last words on the scaffold with the utmost 
composure, using a paper to aid his shattered memory. On 
ascending the ladder, in doing which his tottering frame was 
assisted by some friends in deep mourning, he cried with 
great fervour, " I beseech you all who are the people of God, 
not to scare at sufferings for the sake of Christ, or stumble at 
anything of this kind falling out in these days, but be en- 
couraged to suffer for him; for I assure you, in the name of 

1 Preface to the Apologetical Relation, published in 1665. Burnet says, 
"He was so disordered in body and mind, that it was a reproach to a 
government to proceed against him." {Hist. i. 297.) 

2 Mackenzie's Hist, of Scotland, p. 134. 


the Lord, he will bear your charges." While they were ad- 
justing the rope around his neck he added, "The Lord hath 
graciously comforted me." He then prayed, " Abba, Father, 
accept this thy poor sinful servant, coming unto thee through 
the merits of Jesus Christ." And crying out, " O pray, pray! 
praise, praise!" he was turned over, and expired without a 
struggle, with his hands lifted up to heaven. 

Thus died Archibald Johnston, Lord Warriston, July 22, 
1663. We consider it due to the memory of this excellent 
man to have dwelt thus long on the last scene of his life; 
for as there was no man who did more in his day for the 
advancement of the Reformation, so there is none whose 
character has been so grossly insulted and misrepresented; 
while his sufferings at the close of his eventful life have of 
late, very much in the spirit of those who inflicted them, 
been made the subject of cruel mockery and heartless tri- 
umph. But "the triumphing of the wicked is short;" and 
the time we trust has now come when the attempt to revive 
such calumnies against our persecuted ancestors will only 
prove the signal for the raising of a hundred voices to vindi- 
cate their memory. 

To form a fair estimate of the character of Archibald 
Johnston, we must view it apart from the peculiar com- 
plexion of his religious and political creed. Granting the 
goodness of the cause he espoused, which rests on surer 
grounds than the merits or demerits of its supporters, he 
cannot be justly charged with having acted either dishonour- 
ably or with unbecoming violence in the prosecution of his 
measures. The sole offence with which his enemies could 
charge him, was his having accepted office under the usurper: 
a crime, if crime it was, shared by many besides him, and 
which was confessed and regretted by none more cordially 
than himself. But W T arriston belonged to a class rarely to 
be met with now: he was a religious statesman. The stan- 
dard of his policy was the Word of God; his great and 
governing aim, the divine glory. And on this account his 
name has suffered obloquy from a quarter where all who 
would follow his steps may expect similar treatment, so 
long as society is composed, as it still is to such an alarm- 
ing extent, of the godless and unbelieving. 


Field-meetings in Fife — The bishops' drag-net — High-commission court — - 
William Guthrie of Fenwick — Oppressions of the soldiery — Rising in 
the west — Skirmish at Pentland — Tortures and executions — Hugh 
RPKail — The executioner of Irvine. 

In our last chapter we noticed the commencement, in 
1663, of those field-meetings or conventicles, as they were 
called by their enemies, which gave so much offence to the 
prelates. At first these meetings were very rare, being held 
chiefly in the west and south country. The people having 
been secretly apprised of the place of meeting, assembled 
in some remote sequestered glen unarmed and unoffending, 
and after hearing the gospel from the lips of their beloved 
pastors — endeared to them the more by their having suf- 
fered for the truth which they preached — peaceably dis- 
persed, and returned to their homes. One of these sacred 
" trysting-places," celebrated for many meetings of this 
nature, was Glen vale, a beautiful sequestered valley in Fife, 
lying between West Lomond and Bishophill, and opening 
to the west. About the middle of the valley it expands 
into a fine amphitheatre on the south capable of containing 
many thousand persons; on the north side is a large pro- 
jecting rock, which is said to have been occupied by the 
ejected ministers as a pulpit. In this splendid temple "not 
made with hands " many assembled from the surrounding 
country to worship the God of their fathers: and anecdotes 
connected with these scenes are still preserved by the older 
natives of the district. On one occasion it is said they were 
surprised by a small party of the king's troops who came 
upon them from the west, and looking down saw the whole 
congregation lying in the valley below, hanging entranced 


on the lips of the minister who was then in the midst of his 
sermon, and unconscious of the approach of the enemy. 
'I 'he soldiers were preparing to attack them when they were 
dissuaded from the attempt by Crawford of Powmill, who 
observed, "lake care what ye do — I see Hilton among 
diem " (a famous marksman); " if you meddle with them, he 
is certain to make some of you sleep in your shoes." 1 

On another occasion, when a meeting was held in the 
parish of Kinglassie, a gentleman of the name of Baleddie 
came upon them with a few followers. But they observed 
him at a distance, and before his arrival they had the mini- 
ster concealed among them in disguise. When Baleddie 
came and found himself disappointed in his object, which 
was to apprehend the minister, he rode around the multi- 
tude in high wrath, cursing, and threatening to fine the 
whole of them. While thus employed one of his aunts who 
was present, a woman of determined spirit, and possessed of 
great influence in the country side, rose up and said, " Bal- 
eddie, begone, and do not molest these honest people who 
are met peaceably to hear the gospel ; or, if you do not, I 
will lay you by the heels." " O, Aunt Mary," said Baleddie, 
"are you there?" and turning his horse's head he rode off. 
After this the minister resumed his place, and the people 
dispersed without further molestation.' 2 

How long matters might have continued in this compara- 
tively peaceful state had these meetings been tolerated, it is 
hard to say. Incensed, how r ever, at finding their curates 
despised and deserted, the bishops procured "an act for 
separation and disobedience to ecclesiastick authority," or- 
daining that all ministers who ventured to preach without 
the sanction of the bishops, should be punished as seditious 
persons; and that every one who absented himself from 
public worship in his own parish church should be subjected 

1 Crawford of Powmill, though a rude, profane man, and by no means 
friendly to the Presbyterians, sometimes interfered for their protection. A 
party of soldiers having one day come to apprehend a neighbour of his, a 
tenant at Pittenchiech, the poor man, who was building a stack at the time, 
threw down his fork and ran to Powmill, and meeting with the laird, 
implored him for shelter, crying, " O, laird, where shall I run?" " O, never 
fear," replied Powmill, "run into the house, and get into my bed; they'll 
never think of seeking- a saint in hell." {Memoirs of Veitch arid Brysson, p. 


'- Traditional. 


to certain pains and penalties. This act, which was called 
the bishops' drag-net, was followed by the most vexatious 
oppressions. In the end of 1663 and beginning of the fol- 
lowing year troops were sent into the west under the com- 
mand of Sir James Turner, a mercenary and unprincipled 
soldier, who had formerly fought under the banner of the 
covenant, but who now found a more lucrative service under 
the bishops in plundering the Presbyterians. The process 
adopted by this officer was very simple and summary. The 
curate after sermon read a roll of the parishioners, and 
handed over the names of the absentees to Turner, who was 
at once the judge of the party and the executioner of the 
sentence. Vast sums were levied under the pretext of fines 
for non-attendance at church; and if the tenant was unwill- 
ing or unable to pay the money on the spot, the soldiers 
were sent to quarter upon him till the poor man was " eaten 
up;" his cattle were disposed of for a mere trifle; the bread 
was torn from the mouths of his children and thrown to the 
officers' dogs ; and whole families, reduced from comfort to 
beggary, were compelled to wander about the country for 
subsistence. Those who travelled to a distance to hear 
such of the Presbyterian ministers as were still permitted to 
occupy their pulpits met with no better treatment. A party 
of soldiers would sit carousing in the ale-house till the ser- 
vice was concluded, when they went armed to the church 
door and questioned each individual as he came out whether 
he belonged to the parish. If they did not, and were unpre- 
pared to pay the fine, the men's coats and the women's 
plaids were taken from them; and it was no uncommon 
spectacle to see the soldiers returning from these expeditions 
on the Lord's-day laden with spoil as if they had been strip- 
ping the slain on the field of battle. 

These oppressive measures, however, proving insufficient 
to suppress the practice, the bishops soon found more active 
work for their military assistants. In the beginning of 1664 
a new court was erected by the advice of Sharp, composed 
of bishops and laymen, termed the high-commission coiwt, 
the chief object of which was to carry into effect the ecclesi- 
astical laws, and punish all who opposed the government of 
the Church by bishops. The powers conferred on this court 
were so extraordinary that the chancellor and other noble- 


men became justly suspicious of the growing authority of the 
bishops, and after continuing for two years it was abolished. 
Rut during these two years it was not idle. Ministers were 
banished or imprisoned; women were publicly whipped; and 
even boys, after being scourged and branded, were sold as 
slaves and sent to Barbadoes. Among other proclamations 
against the Presbyterians at this time, too tedious to men- 
tion, there was one making it sedition to give charity or 
collect any contributions for the support of the poor ejected 
ministers; and another for dragooning people to the church 
by imposing fines or quartering soldiers upon them until they 

As a specimen of the spirit of the times we may notice the 
case of William Guthrie, minister of Fenwick, and author ot 
that excellent little treatise, " The Trial of a Saving Interest 
in Christ." He was cousin to James Guthrie, whose martyr- 
dom we have recorded. Affable in manners and facetious 
in conversation, as well as diligent and devout in his office, 
Mr. Guthrie was universally beloved and respected. When 
he first came to Fenwick the people were so rude and irre- 
ligious that many of them never came to church, and did 
not even know the face of their pastor; and various were 
the expedients he tried to overcome their prejudices. Dis- 
guising himself sometimes as a traveller, at other times as a 
sportsman, he would solicit from them a night's lodgings; 
and by the humour of his conversation and joining in their 
amusements, " he gained some to a religious life whom he 
could have little influence upon in a minister's gown." 1 By 
various arts he succeeded in inducing them all to come to 
church; and the pulpit was the first place which discovered 
to them who it was that had allured them to the house of 
prayer. In one of these excursions he peremptorily insisted 
on the goodman of the house performing family worship, 
and would not allow him to go to bed without his at least 
making the attempt. The man after many ineffectual ex- 
cuses at last began, " O Lord, this man will have me to pray, 
but thou knowest that I cannot pray." "Stop," said Mr. 
Guthrie, "you have done well enough; I could not pray a 
better prayer myself." Having prayed with the family lie 
made them promise to attend church the next Sabbath, 

1 Memoirs of Mr. W. Guthrie, prefixed to his Works, edit. 1771, p. 1 1. 


when they discovered their strange guest in the person of 
their parish minister; a discovery which ultimately issued in 
their becoming exemplary in their attendance at church. 1 

Mr. Guthrie's extraordinary reputation pointed him out as 
a special object of dislike to the Archbishop of Glasgow, who 
could not prevail upon him in any way to acknowledge his 
authority. The Earl of Glencairn, then chancellor, being on 
a visit to the archbishop, asked him, as a particular favour, 
that Mr. Guthrie might be overlooked; the prelate, however, 
refused, saying, with a disdainful air, " That shall not be 
done — it cannot be; he is a ringleader and keeper up of se- 
dition in my diocese." The chancellor said little, but when 
he came down stairs his attendants observed him agitated to 
such a degree that " the buttons were springing off his coat 
and vest." Being asked the reason, he replied, '"Woes me! 
we have advanced these men to be bishops, and they will 
trample upon us all." 2 

In July, 1664, Mr. Guthrie was suspended; but the arch- 
bishop could not prevail on any of his curates to intimate 
the sentence; "there was such an awe upon their spirits," 
says Wodrow, " which scared them from meddling with that 
great man." At last one of them, the curate of Calder, was 
induced, by a bribe of five pounds sterling, to execute the 
will of the prelate. With great difficulty Mr. Guthrie pre- 
vailed on his people to refrain from violently opposing the 
party who were sent with the curate; for they were quite 
prepared to sacrifice their lives in the cause of their beloved 
pastor. The miserable curate who had sold himself to this 
work of iniquity preached to his own party without disturb- 
ance; but, we are assured, never preached again. " He died 
in a few days," it is said, "in great torment, of an iliac pas- 
sion ; and his wife and children died all in a year or thereby. 

1 On one occasion, at a meeting of his brethren, Mr. Guthrie, who had 
been more than ordinarily gay and cheerful, was asked to pray; which he 
did in such a solemn and affecting manner, that the grave Mr. Durham 
could not help expressing his amazement, telling him that if he had laughed 
half so much he could not have prayed for a long time after. Mr. Guthrie 
replied, that were it not for his laughing, his disease would soon make him 
sad enough. " But," said Mr. Durham, "are your people not offended at 
your joining in their plays and sports?" " No," said the good man, "they 
are rather blithe to see me do it." ( Wodrow s Analccta, MS.) 

- Wodrow's Anal. MS. ii. 145 ; Hist. Account of Senators of Justice, 
P 350- 


I lis reward of five pounds was dearly bought; it was the price 
of blood, the blood of souls." 1 

Here we cannot refrain from adverting to the decided piety 
of those who suffered at this period in the cause of the < 
nant Without a single exception, they were men of con- 
science, men of prayer, many of them of deep-toned devotion; 
and all of them, cither previous to their being singled 01 
suffering, or before they died, gave remarkable evidence of 
their being sustained and comforted by the hopes of the gos- 
pel. 2 This, in the case of the ministers, had not only a vast 
influence in securing them the sympathies of the people, who 
were not blind to the contrast between them and the careless, 
irreligious curates who supplanted them, but even gained 
them the involuntary respect of their enemies. The Earl of 
Glencairn, who died about this time, earnestly sought, on his 
death-bed, the services of a Presbyterian pastor. The Earl 
of Rothes and the Earl of Annandale, both bitter persecutors 
of the Presbyterian ministers during their lives, were equally 
anxious to have their attendance, and actually obtained it, 
during their last moments. Such instances made the Duke 
of York one day observe, that " he believed that Scotsmen, 
be they what they would in their life-time, were all Presby- 
terians at their death." 3 

Meanwhile, during the year 1665, the oppressions of the 
soldiery became perfectly intolerable, particularly in the west, 
where Sir James Turner and Sir William Bannatyne vied with 
each other in plundering and harassing the unhappy peasantry. 
A faint idea of these exactions may be formed, when we state 
that, within a few weeks, the curates and soldiers gathered 
upwards of 50,000 pounds Scots from the west country, 
purely for nonconformity. In Galloway and Dumfriesshire 
they levied a still larger sum, in addition to the fines imposed 
by the state on landed proprietors, which amounted to many 
hundreds of thousands. 4 To crown the whole, after com- 
mitting these outrages, the soldiers would compel the poor 
people to sign a declaration that they had been used by them 

1 Scots Worthies, p. 294. 

2 "There was never a Presbyterian troubled in his conscience on his 
death-bed, because he kept his covenant, and disowned bLshops; but many 
a poor curate was sore tormented for what he had done." {Kirkton, p. 

a Wodrow, i. 219. 4 See Wodrow's Lists. 


with the greatest tenderness and civility! 1 It seemed as if 
government intended to try the utmost limits to which the 
endurance of the people would go. In the course of five 
years they had seen the legal securities for their beloved Re- 
1 >i mation one after another rescinded, their civil liberties laid 
low, their ministers scattered, and a set of men intruded into 
their churches, whose practice, not to speak of their principles, 
made them little better than public nuisances. And now, 
simply because they would not consent, at the command of 
their rulers, to renounce their religion, they found themselves 
placed under a barbarous military execution; while all liberty 
of petitioning, or addressing the throne, for redress of their 
grievances, was discharged under the highest penalties. Few 
people in any other country would have submitted so long, 
under such circumstances, as they did, silently and without 
a murmur, still hoping that Providence would open a door of 
relief, and that the cry of their oppression might come up to 

But oppression, long continued, will make even wise men 
mad. A circumstance, purely accidental, which took place 
in November, 1666, led to a partial and ill-advised rising in 
the west country, which was followed by the most disastrous 
consequences, not only to those immediately engaged in it, 
but to the whole body of the Presbyterians through the 
country. While the brutal soldiery of Sir James Turner 
were at the height of their insolence, and a great part of the 
west had been laid waste by their devastations, many fami- 
lies, even of the best rank, being forced to hide themselves 
in moors and mountains — four fugitive countrymen passed 
through the village of Dairy, in Dumfriesshire. A party of 
soldiers had seized a poor old man, who could not pay his 
church fines, and were threatening to strip him naked, and 
roast him on a red hot gridiron. The countrymen interfered, 
and were pleading with them to desist, when the soldiers fell 
upon them with their swords, and a scuffle ensued, which 
ended in one of the soldiers being wounded, and the rest 
compelled to deliver up their prisoner. 2 On this the coun- 
trymen, knowing what they might expect for this act of 

1 Kirkton, p. 281. 

2 Wodrow, i. 241; Kirkton, p. 229; Blackad. Mem., p. 136; Turner's 



humanity, resolved, as a first measure of security, to seize on a 
party of soldiers stationed in the neighbourhood. This, with 
the aid of some of their companions, they accomplished, one 
of the soldiers only being killed on attempting resistance. 
Subsequently they were joined by some of the gentlemen of 
the country, who, raising a small force, surprised Sir James 
Turner in his bed at Dumfries, making him prisoner, and 
disarming his soldiers. 1 The news of this rising struck a 
terrible panic into the bishops, and those at the head of 
affairs in Edinburgh, who immediately ordered General Dal- 
ziel to march to Glasgow, despatched an exaggerated account 
to London, and issued a proclamation ordering all to lay down 
their arms, and submit within twenty-four hours. This, how- 
ever, being without any promise of indemnity, amounted to 
little more than a summons to the gallows. The insurgents, 
therefore, only thought of increasing their numbers and fight- 
ing it out. On reaching Lanark, they were nearly three 
thousand horse and foot, but ill-accoutred and undisciplined. 
Here the leaders of the party drew up a short declaration, 
stating the design of their appearance in arms, which they 
declared to be simply " sinless self-defence," in the way of 
adhering to their solemn covenant, and deliverance from 
their manifold grievances, " the just sense of which (they 
say) made us choose rather to betake ourselves to the fields 
for self-defence, than to stay at home burdened daily with 
the calamities of others, and tortured with the fears of our 
own approaching misery." In token of their cause being a 
religious one, they joined in renewing the covenant, confess- 
ing the late heinous violations of it, and pledging themselves 
to stand to its defence. But oppressed as the Presbyterians 
in the west had been, they were not prepared for an expedi- 
tion which they regarded as premature and hopeless. The 
devoted little band, instead of finding new accessions as they 
advanced, had the mortification to see their numbers daily 
dropping away. Colonel Wallace, a brave and enterprising 
officer, who had taken the command, used all his efforts to 
keep them together; but on approaching Edinburgh, from 
which they were led to expect great support, they found the 

1 "On arriving at Dumfries, they marched to the cross, and drank the 
king's health, a labour they might well have spared, for they had cruel 
thanks." {Kirkton, p. 232.) 


whole city in arms against them. l Harassed with long march- 
ing in the midst of a severe winter, surrounded by their ene- 
mies behind and before, half-drowned and half-starved, " they 
looked," says Kirkton, " rather like dying men than soldiers 
going to conquer." Yet in this pitiable plight, reduced 
to nine hundred men, they resolved to stand their ground; 
and at the Pentland Hills, on a spot named Rullion Green, 
the conflict began by an attack of a body of horse under 
the command of Dalziel. This attack was nobly met; the 
royal troops were repelled by Major Learmont, at the head 
of a body of the Covenanters, among whom were two Irish 
ministers, Mr. Crookshanks and Mr. M'Cormack, who had 
been active in encouraging the people to this undertaking, 
and bravely fell on the first onset. It is said, that had they 
followed up their advantage, the Covenanters might have 
gained the victory: 2 but their horses being untrained, and 
themselves spent with fatigue, superior numbers and discipline 
prevailed; and after a desperate conflict, they were defeated, 
with the loss of fifty killed, and as many taken prisoners. 
The rest made their escape in the darkness of the night. 
This skirmish was fought on the 28th of November, 1666. 
It is allowed, even by Sir James Turner, who was present, 
having been kept a prisoner among the Presbyterians, and 
who has written a minute though rather disingenuous account 
of the whole affair, that " the rebels, for their numbers, fought 
desperately enough." 3 

Thus ended this most unfortunate and ill-timed rising — 
an attempt which was disapproved of and lamented by the 
great body of the Presbyterians, and which can only be 
justified by the oppressive conduct of the bishops and their 
underlings, clerical and military, who goaded the poor people 
to such a pitch of irritation, that the wonder is how they 
bore it so long. To brand it, however, by the odious name 

1 See an interesting Narrative of the Rising at Pentland, by Colonel 
Wallace; Mem. of Veitch and Brysson, p. 388, et seq. 

2 Wodrow, i. 251, on the information of a minister who was present. 

3 At one time he tells us that he had not "seen less of divine worship 
anywhere than he saw in that army of theirs." " I am sure," he says, " in 
my quarters my guards neither prayed nor praised for anything I ever 
heard;" and yet, in the same breath, he complains of the tediousness of 
their graces before and after meat, which gave him even more annoyance 
than the scarceness and bad quality of his victuals, the main theme of his 
lamentations. ( Turner's Memoirs. ) 


of rebellion, would be an abuse of terms, and a libel on the 
worthy men who were engaged in it, all of whom disclaimed 
seditious motives, or any design to overturn the government. 
All of them, without exception, at this period, owned the 
king's authority, and submitted to everything save Episco- 
pacy; and this they could not do without renouncing that 
covenant which, they conscientiously believed, was obligatory 
on themselves and on the whole land. Their simple object 
was to free themselves and their countrymen from the 
horrible oppression under which they groaned, and to lay 
their grievances at the foot of the throne, to which they had 
no ordinary means of access. They cannot be condemned 
for this without condemning the very principles upon which 
our ancestors acted, with more success, at the period of the 
Revolution. And had they succeeded, there can be no doubt 
that, instead of being stigmatized as rebels, they would have 
earned the praise of patriots. But while the tyranny under 
which they suffered is sufficient to justify their resistance, 
and vindicate them from the charge of rebellion, the end for 
which they suffered, and the spirit in which they died, 
entitle them to the honour of martyrdom. This distinction 
is so well stated by one of themselves in his "dying testi- 
mony," and is so necessary to the right understanding of 
the quarrel, that it may be here introduced: — "Although 
the insupportable oppressions under which I and many 
others did groan, were enough to justify our preserving and 
defending of ourselves by arms, yet know that the cause was 
not ours, but the Lord's; for we suffered all our grievous 
oppressions, not for evil doing, but because we could not in 
conscience acknowledge, comply with, and obey Prelacy, 
and submit unto the ministry of ignorant, light, and profane 
men, who were irregularly and violently thrust upon us; 
neither did we only or mainly design our civil liberties, but 
the liberty of the gospel, the extirpation of Prelacy, the re- 
storation of our faithful pastors, the suppression of profanity, 
promoting of piety, the saving of ourselves from unjust 
violence, until we had presented our grievances and desires; 
and, in a word, the recovering of the once glorious, but now- 
ruined work of reformation, in doctrine, worship, discipline, 
and government, according to the national covenant and 
solemn league and covenant, to which I declare my 

1666.] THE COVENANTERS. 287 

adherence, and through grace shall seal the same with my 
blood." 1 

We may conclude this brief defence of our fathers with 
the words of a worthy minister, who survived the dangers of 
this period, and lived to see the Revolution: "It is easy to 
lie always under the sun-blinks of royal favour, and to scan- 
dalize others as enemies to the king and to authority; where- 
as, if themselves were but far less and shorter while crossed 
and crushed in their interests, as we have seen examples 
enough to give us a taste of this" (referring to the rebellions 
of the Jacobites), " they would be much more impatient, 
and readier to cry out against their sovereign and rulers; 
and, it may be, readier to put their hand to the hilt of their 
sword, than most of the Presbyterians." 2 

All who were engaged in, or suspected of being accessory 
to, this ill-fated enterprise, were treated with the most unre- 
lenting severity. With regard to the poor prisoners, " very 
quick despatch was made with them." They were crowded, 
like so many cattle, into a dungeon; and though they had 
been taken prisoners in battle, upon quarter asked and given, 
the greater part of them were brought to trial, and con- 
demned as traitors and rebels. 3 " It was a moving sight," 

1 The Testimony of John Neilson of Corsack, who died at Edinburgh, 
December 14, 1666. {Naphtali, p. 323.) Some have blamed them because 
they made the defence of the gospel one of their declared objects; and 
among others, Dr. M 'Gavin, in his notes to his edition of the Scots 

Worthies, condemns this, while, at the same time, he owns that " in a civil 
and political view, they suffered enough to provoke resistance." He would 
have allowed them to fight for an object purely civil and political ; but 
because religion was mixed up in the quarrel, he conceives that they ought 
to have suffered "with the meekness of lambs led to the slaughter," in 
which case, " their murderers might have become ashamed or tired of their 
work!" [Scots Worthies, p. 294.) We question much whether this is the 
language either of nature or of common sense. The sword of persecution 
can only reach religion through the side of our civil freedom ; and therefore, 
although the Presbyterians at Pentland, being religious men, professed it as 
their chief object to defend themselves in the enjoyment of their religion, on 
which they placed most value, they may be vindicated for doing so on the 
simple ground, that before their enemies could have struck at the sacred 
ark of religious freedom, they must have first trampled on all their evil and 
natural rights as free-born Britons. — It is to be regretted that Dr. M 'Gavin 
should have meddled with the Scots Worthies at all. He has spoiled the sim- 
plicity of Howie's style, by attempting to modernize it, and done little more 
than betrayed his sectarianism by the comments he has made on the text. 

2 Patrick Simpson, minister of Renfrew, MS. — P.S. against Hackton's 
Ghost, p. 73. 

3 Out of the fifty prisoners, thirty-five were brought to the scaffold, of 


says Burnet, " to see ten of these prisoners hanged upon 
one gibbet." They all declared their innocence of the crime 
of treason or rebellion. " We are condemned by men," 
they said, " and esteemed by many as rebels against the 
king, whose authority we acknowledge. But this is our 
rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience, that we suffer not 
as evil-doers, but for righteousness, for the Word of God 
and testimony of Jesus Christ, and particularly for our 
renewing the covenants, and, in pursuance thereof, defending 
and preserving ourselves by arms against the usurpation and 
insupportable tyranny of the prelates, and against the most 
unchristian and inhuman oppression and persecution that 
ever was enjoined and practised by unjust rulers upon/ra", 
innocent, and peaceable subjects" 1 Again, " we declare, in the 
presence of God, before whom we are now ready to appear, 
that we did not intend to rebel against the king and his just 
authority, whom we acknow 'ledge for our lawful sovereign." 
" I am condemned," said another, " I shall not say how 
unjustly, as a rebel against man; but the Lord God of gods 
He knoweth, and all Israel shall know, that it is not for 
rebellion against God, but for endeavouring to recover the 
blessed work of reformation, and for renewing of the cove- 
nant, from the obligation whereof (seeing I made my vow 
and promise to the Lord) neither I myself nor any human 
authority can absolve me. And if any account this rebel- 
lion, I do plainly confess that after the way which they call 
heresy, I worship the God of my fathers." 2 All of them, 
indeed, laid their blood at the door of the prelates, and 
expressed their confidence that if the king only knew the 
cause in which they suffered, he would never consent to 
their death. But all access to the royal ear was carefully 
barred; and even on the scaffold, when, for their own vindi- 
cation, they said anything reflecting on the bishops or the 
defection of the times, their voice was drowned by the 
beating of drums. 

One of those who suffered was Mr. Alexander Robertson, 
a preacher. He was a man of great boldness and resolution, 

whom twenty were executed at Edinburgh, seven at Ayr, and the rest in 
different parts of the country. 

1 Joint Testimony of the ten who were executed December 7, 1666; 
Naphtali, pp. 306, 311. 

' 2 Testimony of Neilson of Corsack, in Naphtali, p. 323. 


was among the first in Edinburgh who proposed joining the 
insurgents in the west, and it was in his chamber that the 
consultations were held on this subject. He acted as a 
captain in the army that fought at Pentland, though he, 
with others, attempted to dissuade Colonel Wallace from 
persevering in the attempt, after finding that so few came 
forward to join them. This martyr, as well as his compan- 
ions, solemnly disclaimed, in his dying speech, any rebellious 
purpose against the government : "I do solemnly declare, 
as a dying man, that I had no worse design than the restor- 
ing of the glorious work of reformation according to the 
covenant, and more particularly the extirpation of Prelacy, 
to which his majesty and all his subjects are as much obliged 
as I. And let that be removed, and the work of reformation 
be restored, and I dare die in saying, that his majesty shall 
not have in all his dominions more loving, loyal, and peace- 
able subjects, than those v*\io,for their non-compliance with 
Prelacy, are loaded with reproaches of fanaticism and rebel- 
lion." 1 

The firmness with which these sufferers endured not only 
an ignominious death but the tortures which often preceded 
it, astonished their adversaries and left a strong impression 
on the multitude. The two persons, however, who were 
most distinguished both for their high character and their 
extraordinary sufferings on this occasion, were John Neilson 
of Corsack, and Mr. Hugh Mackail, preacher of the gospel. 
Neilson was a gentleman of property, remarkable for the 
mildness and generosity of his disposition. He was the 
means of saving the life of Sir James Turner; for he not 
only gave him quarter, but on some of the party having 
offered to shoot him, Corsack interfered, saying, " You shall 
as soon kill me, sir; for I have given him quarter." 2 
Mackail was a young man of twenty-six years of age; and 
having been licensed at the very time when Prelacy was 

1 His last speech is to be found in Naphtali. I have quoted the above, 
however, from a copy of it in my possession, written by his own hand, and 
dated on the very day of his execution. The copy, which plainly bore marks 
of blood, I found among some rubbish in the council chambers at Edinburgh. 
It could only be for their non-compliance with Prelacy that they were put 
to death; for they distinctly tell us they were offered their lives, if they 
would have subscribed the declaration acknowledging the bishops. 

2 Crichton's Memoirs of Blackader, p. 138. 



introduced, he gave mortal offence to the rulers by the first 
sermon he preached in Edinburgh, in which he declared 
that " the Church of Scotland had been persecuted by a 
Pharaoh on the throne, a Haman in the state, and a Judas 
in the Church." 1 This was the real source of their enmity 
against him, for he had very little to do with the rising at 
Pentland. Both these worthy gentlemen were subjected at 
their trial to the diabolical torture of the boots — an instru- 
ment of cruelty which had not been used in Scotland for 
upwards of forty years before, and the very appearance of 
which the people had forgotten ; but the bishops had taken 
care that a new pair should be made for the occasion, and 
they were brought into frequent use during the subsequent 
years. This instrument was made of four pieces of narrow 
boards nailed together, of a competent size for the leg. Into 
this case after the criminal's leg was inclosed wedges were 
driven down with a hammer, which caused intolerable pain, 
and frequently mangled the limb in a shocking manner, 
compressing the flesh and even forcing the marrow from the 
bone. The two martyrs bore this horrible torture with the 
most astonishing fortitude, though poor Corsack, the " meek 
and generous gentleman " as he is described by those who 
knew him, was so cruelly tormented that he shrieked enough 
to move a heart of stone; while the unfeeling Rothes fre- 
quently called out to the executioner to " give him the other 
touch." 2 Mackail was treated in the same manner, and 
received ten or eleven strokes of the hammer without any 
expression of impatience. The object of all this cruelty was 
to ascertain the secret causes and agents of this rebellion as 
they called it, but it was in vain; torture itself could not 
extract more from them than what they knew; and before 
receiving the last stroke Mackail solemnly protested in the 
sight of God that he could say no more though all the joints 
in his body were in as great torture as that poor limb; and 
that, to the best of his knowledge, the rising in the west was 

1 Mackail was at first chaplain to Sir James Stuart of Kirkfield. Wodrow 
describes him as "universally beloved, singularly pious, and of very consider- 
able learning." After giving offence by the sermon referred to, he went to 
the Continent, where he improved himself by travelling. He seems to have 
had a turn for elegant literature, as appears from the Latin verses which he 
composed in prison. 

2 Wodrow, i. 258, 259, fol. 

1666.] HUGH MACKAIL. 29 1 

purely accidental, arising from a discontent between the 
people there and Sir James Turner. 

The behaviour of this excellent young man in prison after 
condemnation was equally remarkable for Christian fortitude, 
humility, and faith. His cheerfulness never forsook him. 
Some having asked how his shattered limb was, he replied, 
"The fear of my neck now makes me forget my leg." He 
prayed with and encouraged his fellow-sufferers, frequently 
exclaiming, " What, Lord, shall be the end of these wonders?" 
His appearance on the scaffold, Saturday, December 22, 
excited " such a lamentation," says Kirkton, " as was never 
known in Scotland before; not one dry cheek upon all the 
street, or in all the numberless windows in the market-place." 
The extreme youthfulness and delicacy of his appearance, 
the comeliness and composure of his countenance, struck 
every beholder — a thrill of mingled pity and horror ran 
through the crowd; and while those addicted to swearing 
cursed the bishops, others were fervently praying for the 
youthful martyr. After delivering his last speech, and on 
taking hold of the ladder to go up, he said in an audible 
voice, " I care no more to go up this ladder and over it, 
than if I were going to my father's house." Then turning 
to his fellow-sufferers he cried, "Friends, be not afraid; 
every step in this ladder is a degree nearer to heaven." Be- 
fore being turned over he removed the napkin from his face, 
saying, " I hope you perceive no alteration or discourage- 
ment in my countenance and carriage; and as it may be 
your wonder, so I profess it is a wonder to myself; and I 
will tell you the reason of it: Besides the justice of my cause, 
this is my comfort, what was said of Lazarus when he died, 
that the angels did carry his soul to Abraham's bosom; so 
that as there is a great solemnity here of a confluence of 
people, a scaffold, a gallows, and people looking out of win- 
dows; so there is a greater and more solemn preparation of 
angels to carry my soul to Christ's bosom." He then ended 
with that noble burst of Christian eloquence so much ad- 
mired and so often imitated: "And now I leave off to speak 
any more to creatures, and begin my intercourse with God, 
which shall never be broken off. Farewell, father and 
mother, friends and relations; farewell, the world and all 
delights; farewell, meat and drink; farewell, sun, moon, and 


stars! Welcome God and Father, welcome sweet Jesus 
Christ, the mediator of the new covenant; welcome blessed 
Spirit of grace, the God of all consolation; welcome glory; 
welcome eternal life; and welcome death!" 

These were atrocious scenes; but they derive a darker 
shade from the fact, which rests on the best authority, that 
before these executions were finished a letter had come 
down from the king, addressed to Sharp as president of the 
council, discharging them from taking any more lives; and 
that this letter, instead of being instantly communicated to 
the council, was kept back by the archbishop till all who 
had been condemned w r ere executed. From other sources 
it seems probable that this letter arrived before the execu- 
tion of Mackail; in which case the death of that youth must 
be viewed as the personal act of the infatuated Sharp, who 
never forgave him for that word — "a Judas in the Church." 1 

Though we have already dwelt sufficiently long on these 
details, we cannot help noticing the fate of two young gentle- 
men, the Gordons of Knockbreck, in Galloway, who were 
executed at this time. These youths, who were distin- 
guished for piety, learning, and talents, as well as for ardent 
attachment to each other, had suffered much from the rapa- 
city of the soldiers. As they were pleasant in their lives, so 
in their deaths they were not divided; for when on the point 
of being turned over they clasped each other with affection- 
ate ardour, and endured the pangs of death in each other's 

In the west country numbers were executed for the same 
cause. But there, so convinced were all classes of the inno- 
cence and moral worth of those who suffered, that no execu- 
tioner could be prevailed upon to carry the sentence into 
effect. At last one of the prisoners, bribed and dragged 
into service, executed his companions, but soon afterwards 
died himself in despair. In Irvine, the hangman, a poor 
simple Highlander named William Sutherland, peremptorily 
refused to execute the good men merely for opposing the 
bishops, whom, he said, "he had never liked since he knew 

1 This fact was not forgotten by those who assassinated him; for when he 
cried pitifully for mercy, he was told, that " as he had never showed mercy 
to any, so mercy he should have none himself." (Wodrow; Kirkton, p. 


how to read his Bible." Solicitations, promises, and threats, 
were all used with him, but in vain. They threatened him 
with the boots. " You may bring the boots and the spurs 
too," said William, "you shall not prevail." They swore 
they would pour melted lead on him — they would roll him 
in a barrel full of spikes; but the Highlander stood firm. 
They then put him in the stocks, and the soldiers having 
charged their pieces and blindfolded him, rushed on him 
with frightful shouts and imprecations; but all in vain. 
Confounded at his fortitude, they declared "that the devil 
surely was in him." " If the devil be in me," said William, 
"he is an unnatural devil, for if he were like the rest he 
would bid me take as many lives as I could; but the Spirit 
that is in me will not suffer me to take good men's lives." 
" Tell me," said one of the judges, " who put these words 
into your mouth?" "Even He who made Balaam's ass to 
speak and reprove the madness of the prophet," replied 
William. At length, finding that they could make nothing 
more of him, they allowed him to escape. 


1666— 1677. 

General Dalziel — Anecdotes of the persecution — MitcheWs attempt to 
assassinate Sharp — The indulgence — The bishop's evangelists — Leigh- 
toifs accommodation — Field meetings — Description of a Scottish Cove- 
nanters' 1 communion. 

Our last chapter concluded with an account of the execu- 
tions which followed the defeat at Pentland. These, how- 
ever, afford a very imperfect idea of the sufferings entailed 
on the Presbyterians, particularly in the west of Scotland, in 
consequence of that ill-fated insurrection. The enemies of 
the Church are seldom at a loss for want of instruments fitted 
for their persecuting measures; and at this period they found 
one remarkably well qualified in the person of General Dal- 
ziel, who was sent with a body of troops into the West. 

Thomas Dalziel of Binns was a rigid veteran, who had 
served under the Czar of Muscovy against the Turks and 
Tartars, and in that barbarous warfare had become inured 
to blood, pillage, and torture, and hardened against all feel- 
ings of humanity. His beard, which he had never shaved 
since the execution of Charles I., hung down, white and 
bushy, almost to his girdle; and his whole appearance was 
as savage as his manners. Such was the bigot, who, ignor- 
ant of everything but martial law, blinded by prejudice and 
heated by habitual intemperance, was commissioned to rec- 
tify the disorders which religious oppression had created, and 
reconcile a free people to civil and ecclesiastical bondage. 

As a specimen of his doings in the west country, it may 
be mentioned, that a sergeant having apprehended a man 
named Finlay, who had acknowledged that he was acciden- 
tally at Lanark when Colonel Wallace and his men p. 
through on their way to Pentland, brought him before Dal- 

1666.] GENERAL DALZIEL. 295 

ziel; and simply because he would not, or rather could not, 
give any satisfactory account of the rich Whigs he had seen 
there, the general ordered him to be instantly taken out and 
shot. When the poor man was carried out, neither he nor 
the lieutenant who was to execute the sentence believed the 
general to be in earnest; and he so earnestly begged "one 
night's time to prepare for eternity," that the lieutenant re- 
turned to Dalziel, and entreated that he might be spared till 
the next day. The brutal commander repeated his order, 
saying to the officer, " I'll teach you, sir, to obey without 
scruple." The poor man was instantly shot, stripped naked, 
and left lying on the ground. The sergeant who had con- 
veyed the prisoner from his own house, and who had gone to 
sleep, no sooner beheld this bloody spectacle next morning, 
than he sickened at heart, refused all sustenance, and died 
in a few days. 1 

On another occasion, one of the Whigs, as they were called, 
being hotly pursued, ran into the house of a poor country 
woman, escaped by another door, and threw himself into a 
ditch, where he concealed himself so effectually under the 
water, that the soldiers could not discover his hiding-place. 
Incensed at missing their prey, they seized on the poor 
woman, who could give no other account of the matter than 
that she saw a man run through the house; and dragging 
her to head-quarters at Kilmarnock, they threw her into a 
dungeon full of toads and other reptiles, where the shrieks 
of the poor creature were heard by the whole neighbourhood, 
not one of whom durst come to her relief, for fear of sharing 
the same fate. Another woman, whom they charged with 
being accessory to her husband's escape in female clothes, 
they tortured, by binding her and putting lighted matches 
between her fingers for several hours, till she lost one of her 
hands, and died in a few days from the effects of the bar- 
barous treatment. 

But it would occupy too much space to recount the vari- 
ous tortures and oppressions which were employed on the 
wretched peasantry. " Sir James Turner and Sir William 

J This deed, which was too much for the heart of the unsophisticated 
soldier, is vindicated by a modern commentator on our history, who merely 
observes of it, that "General Dalziel was a very strict disciplinarian in 
military matters." {Note to Kirkton's History by Sharpc, p. 256.) 


Bannatyne had, by their cruelties, driven the poor people 
of Galloway into despair, but they were saints compared to 
Tom Dalyell and his soldiers. Meantime the poor Whigs 
either wandered in a strange land, or lurked, under 
dissembled names, in remote places of the country, or hid 
themselves in caves or coal-pits; and indeed it was a sad 
winter, the first time ever Scotland endured so much tyr- 
anny." 1 " Dalziel acted the Muscovite too grossly," says 
Burnet. "He threatened to spit men, and to roast them; 
and he killed some in cold blood, or rather in hot blood; for 
he was then drunk, when he ordered one to be hanged 
because he would not tell where his father was, for whom he 
was in search. By this means all people were struck with 
such terror, that they came regularly to church; and the 
clergy were so delighted with it, that they used to speak of 
that time as the poets do of the golden age. They never 
interceded for any compassion to their people; nor did they 
take care to live more regularly, or to labour more carefully. 
They looked on the soldiery as their patrons; they were ever 
in their company, complying with them in their excesses; 
and (if they were not much wronged) they rather led them 
into them, than checked them for them." 2 

It is very difficult for us to form an idea of the state of 
things from general descriptions. We shall select a particu- 
lar example. A son of the Rev. John Blackader gives the 
following artless but graphic account of one of these scenes, 
which took place when he was a boy of ten years of age: 
"About this time (the end of winter, 1666) Turner and 
a party of sodgers from Galloway came to search for my 
father, who had gone to Edinburgh. These rascally ruffians 
beset our house round, about two o'clock in the morning, 
cursing on us to open the door. Upon which we all got up, 
young and old, excepting my sister, with the nurse and the 
child at her breast. When they came in the fire was gone 
out: they roared out again, ' Light a candle immediately and 
on with a fire quickly, or else we'll roast nurse and bairn and 
all in the fire, and mak a bra' bleeze.' When the candle 
was lighted they drew out their swords, and went to the 
stools and chairs, and clove them down to make the fire 
withal; and they made me hold the candle to them, trem- 

1 Kirkton. 2 Burnet's Hist. i. 349. 


bling all along, and fearing every moment to be thrown quick 
into the fire. They then went to search the house for my 
father, running their swords down through the beds and bed- 
clothes; and among the rest they came where my sister was, 
then a child, and as yet fast asleep, and with their swords 
stabbed down through the bed where she was lying, crying, 
' Come out, rebel dog.' They made narrow search for him 
in all corners of the house, ransacking presses, chests, and 
flesh-stands. Then they went and threw down all his books 
from the press upon the floor, and caused poor me hold 
the candle all this while, till they had examined his books ; 
and all they thought whiggish, as they termed it (and brave 
judges they were!), they put into a great horse-creel and 
took away. Then they ordered one of their fellow-ruffians 
to climb up to the hen-bauks, where the cocks and hens 
were; and as they came to one, threw about its neck, and 
down to the floor wi't ; and so on, till they had destroyed 
them all. Then they went to the meat-amry, and took out 
what was there; then to the meal and beef barrels, and left 
little or nothing there. All this I was an eye-witness to, 
trembling and shivering all the while, having nothing but 
my short shirt upon me. So soon as I was relieved of my 
office, I begins to think, if possible, of making my escape, 
rather than to be burnt quick, as I thought, and they threat- 
ened. I goes to the door, where there was a sentry on 
every side, standing with their swords drawn; for watches 
were set round to prevent escape. I approached nearer 
and nearer, by small degrees, making as if I were playing 
myself. At last I gets out there, making still as if I were 
playing, till I came to the gate of the house; then, with all 
the speed I had (looking behind me now and then, to see if 
they were pursuing after me), I run the length of half-a-mile 
in the dark night, naked to the shirt. I got to a neighbour- 
ing toune, called the Brigend of Mennihyvie; where, thinking 
to creep into some house to save my life, I found all the 
doors shut, and the people sleeping. Upon which I went 
to the cross of the toune, and got up to the uppermost step 
of it; and there I sat me down, and fell fast asleep till the 
morning. Between five and six a door opens, and an old 
woman comes out, and seeing a white thing upon the cross, 
comes near it; and when she found it was a little boy, cries 


out, 'Save us! what art thou?' With that I awaked, and 
answered her, ' I'm Mr. Blackader's son.' ' O my puir bairn ! 
what brought thee here?' I answers, 'There's a hantle of 
fearfull men, with red coats, has burnt all our house, my 
breether and sister, and all the family.' ' O puir thing,' says 
she, ' come in and lye down in my warm bed;' which I did; 
and it was the sweetest bed that I ever met with." 1 

All this time the finings were imposed with increased se- 
verity; and it enhances, in no small degree, our disgust when 
we are informed that the persecutors were incited as much 
by avarice as by cruelty in their measures. The rising at 
Pentland was a rich harvest to the soldiery, and a perfect 
windfall to debauched and impoverished country gentlemen. 
These, no doubt, were actuated, in a great measure, by hos- 
tility to the principles of the Presbyterians, but still more by 
the motive which was avowed by Sir William Bannatyne, who, 
on one occasion, when a farmer asked him for what he was 
fined, honestly replied, "Because you have gear, and I must 
have a part of it." 

The year 1667 brought a temporary respite, in consequence 
of a change in the administration. The Duke of Lauderdale 
supplanted the cruel Earl of Rothes in the royal favour, and, 
though in London, took on him the management of affairs 
in Scotland. Lauderdale had been once a Presbyterian, and 
it is said retained his attachment to that form of government 
even after it had been subverted, He was now, however, a 
courtier; and being anxious to please the king, while, at the 
same time, he was unwilling to press matters with the Pres- 
byterians, his great policy, for some time at least, was to 
effect an accommodation between them and the prelatic 
party. Violent in his passions, coarse in his manners, and 
devoid of all religious principle, he was not the person best 
fitted for accomplishing such an object. But his measures 
at first showed at least a desire to do so. The standing 
army, much to the discontent of the officers and of the 
council, who had shared the plunder between them, was dis- 
banded; an indemnity was passed in favour of such as had 
been at Pentland, provided they signed a bond of peace; 
Turner and Bannatyne were called to account for their ex- 
tortions and misdemeanours, and dismissed his majesty's 
1 Memoirs of Rev. J. Blackader, pp. 130-133. 


service ; and Archbishop Sharp was disgraced, in consequence 
of the king having discovered his duplicity, from two letters 
he sent to court, one of which, directed to Lauderdale, 
affirmed that all was going on well in Scotland; while the 
other, addressed to another nobleman, gave quite an opposite 
account. There was even some talk of allowing liberty to 
Presbyterian ministers to exercise their ministry without any 
dependence on the bishops. 

This favourable turn of affairs, however, received a con- 
siderable check by an incident which occurred the following 
year (1668). It is hardly possible to exaggerate the odium 
into which Archbishop Sharp had fallen throughout Scotland. 
He was regarded as at once a traitor to his country, an apos- 
tate from his religion, a persecutor, a hypocrite, and a profli- 
gate. Without giving implicit credit to all the reports which 
were propagated against his private character, his public 
conduct was unquestionably enough to brand him with 
infamy. As abject in adversity as he was arrogant in pros- 
perity — fawning and obsequious to those in power, insolent 
and supercilious to all others — grasping and ambitious, but 
ready to stoop to the lowest artifices for gaining his objects 
— it is no wonder he should have been alike despised by the 
nobility, whom he aped, and obnoxious to the common 
people, who regarded him as the prime mover of all their 
oppressions. The wonder is, how, in such an age, when the 
passions of men ran so high, without the artificial embank- 
ments, or the regular channels which, in modern times, 
restrain them or afford them legitimate vent, he should have 
escaped so long without some personal injury. Of this, indeed, 
he himself professed to entertain some alarm; and at one 
time the provost of Edinburgh appointed a guard to secure 
his lodging. The soldiers employed in this duty, as if they 
had been tainted with the popular feeling, or asTiamed of 
their office, determined that if they must keep the prelate 
safe, he should get no sound sleep: every half hour they 
gave him a false alarm; one sentinel crying, Stand! and 
another, Present, fire! as if some were coming to assault 
him ; till he was obliged, for the sake of rest, to retreat into 
the castle. 1 

His apprehensions, so far as the great body of the people 

1 Kirkton. p. 254. 


were concerned, were perfectly unfounded; but who can 
answer, in such circumstances, for the wayward conduct of 
individuals? One James Mitchell, "a weak scholar," who 
had been involved in the insurrection at Pentland, and had 
been excluded from the indemnity, took it into his head to 
be avenged on the archbishop, whom he regarded, not only 
as the instigator of the sanguinary persecutions against his 
brethren, but as actuated by a particular malice towards 
himself, and as having used every means to prevent him 
from obtaining mercy at the hands of government. What- 
ever might be his views or motives, it is certain that his 
enterprise was entirely his own act, projected and perpetrated 
without advice or concert with any other person. He seems 
to have been a zealous and conscientious man; though, it 
we may judge from this action, his zeal was neither enlight- 
ened by knowledge nor tempered by moderation. In June, 
1668, having armed himself for the purpose, he watched the 
archbishop in Edinburgh, and on his entering his coach dis- 
charged a pistol at him loaded with three balls. The arch- 
bishop escaped unharmed, but one of the balls struck the 
wrist of Honeyman, Bishop of Orkney, who was in the act 
of entering the carriage at his back. After this, Mitchell 
coolly walked to his lodgings, changed his clothes, and re- 
turning to the street, mingled with the crowd. "The cry 
arose that a man was killed; the people's answer was, Ifs 
but a bishop! and so there was no more noise." 1 Notwith- 
standing all the exertions of the council to discover the 
assassin, he could not be found till six years afterwards, when 
we shall have occasion to notice his fate. Honeyman lived 
some years after, though his wound never seems to have 
been properly healed. As to Sharp, we are informed that at 
first he took it very devoutly. Burnet says, that when he 
called on him he observed, with a very serious look, "My 
times are wholly in thy hand, O thou God of my life!" 
"This," adds the bishop, "was the single expression savour- 
ing of piety that ever fell from him in all the conversation 
that passed between him and me." 2 

This fanatical and foolhardy attempt furnished a pretext 
to the council for molesting the peaceable Presbyterians, 
whom, without the slightest evidence, they charged with 

1 Kirkton, 279. 2 Burnet, i. 400. 


having been privy to the design of Mitchell. Nothing, indeed, 
is more characteristic of the malice that animated the rulers 
of these times, than the disingenuous and disgraceful policy 
by which, on this and many other occasions, the crime of 
one, or of a few individuals, was made the crime of the whole 
party. But if there was little public sympathy with the act, 
there was still less with the eagerness shown to bring the 
actor to justice. It was remarked as very surprising, that 
though a strict search was made in Edinburgh for the aggres- 
sor on the bishops — though the town was at that time full of 
those who were lurking in consequence of their share in the 
rising at Pentland — yet few, if any, were apprehended. 
Among the narrow escapes which were made, none was more 
singular than that of Maxwell of MoncriefT, a gentleman of 
extensive property. On the hue and cry being raised, this 
gentleman betook himself for shelter to the house of his 
stabler, who kept an inn. The landlord told him very coldly 
that he had no place to put him in, but pointing to a large 
empty meal-barrel which stood in the public drinking-room, 
said that if he chose he might hide himself under that. He 
had hardly got into this strange receptacle when the constable 
and his men came in to search the house, and sat down to 
drink in the very room, with the barrel at the end of their 
table. "I know," said one of the fellows, "there are a great 
many Whigs in town, and maybe some of them not very far 
oft'." "I would not wonder," said another of them, with an 
oath, and striking on the top of the barrel, "but there may 
be one of them under that." At this the rest laughed, as a 
good jest; and they went away, leaving the gentleman to 
escape, after having tasted, it may be supposed, the bitterness 
of death. 

The year 1669 is remarkable for the famous act of Indul- 
gence, granted by the king on the 7 th of June, and which 
professed to give relief, on certain conditions, to those minis- 
ters who could not conform to the established order. It is 
needless here to enter into a history of this act, which, what- 
ever might be the intentions of its original projectors (the 
Earls of Tweeddale and Lauderdale), became in reality the 
occasion of a most lamentable division among the Presby- 
terians. The two great objections which were made against 
it were, 1st, That it implied an acknowledgment of the Eras- 


tian supremacy claimed by the king and the government 
over the Church. 2d, That it imposed restrictions on minis- 
terial liberty, by confining the ministers within certain bounds, 
and forbidding, under the name of sedition, all condemna- 
tion of the late innovations in Church and state. Several of 
the ministers, anxious to resume their labours, were induced 
to accept it, declaring that they held themselves responsible 
for the exercise of their ministry, not to the king, but to the 
Lord Jesus Christ, from whom they received it; and promis- 
ing to behave themselves in the exercise of it with all becom- 
ing prudence. They argued that this acceptance was merely 
embracing the liberty to preach, which belonged to them of 
right, and no more implied a recognition of the supremacy 
claimed by the civil powers who granted it, than a prisoner's 
walking out of his cell to the liberty of which he had been 
unjustly deprived, implied an acknowledgment of the author- 
ity by which he had been imprisoned. They were less suc- 
cessful, however, in reconciling with their former vows their 
submission to the restrictions imposed on their ministry. We 
should judge charitably as to their motives, considering the 
circumstances; but it is much to be questioned how far their 
compliance was consistent with the principles of Presbyterian- 
ism, and how far they could be justified in accepting of this 
boon, while their brethren who refused were exposed to 
severe hardships in consequence of their compliance. There 
can be no doubt that the example of those who accepted 
became a powerful argument with the persecutors against all 
who conscientiously refused the indulgence, and who were 
stigmatized thenceforth on this account as impracticable 
bigots, condemned even by their own brethren. 

With respect to the indulgence itself, it was neither calcu- 
lated to reconcile the divisions of the country, the elements 
of which still raged in the form of bitter antipathies between 
the supporters of Presbytery and Episcopacy — nor was the 
measure agreeable to either of the parties. The bishops 
dreaded it as the forerunner of their downfal, and were only 
reconciled to it by the artifices of Sharp, who promised to 
have it so clogged with restrictions, from time to time, as to 
convert it into "a snare and a bone of contention to the 
Presbyterians." In this he succeeded so well, that within a 
few years a complete breach took place between the indulged 




and non-indulged^ the latter of whom charged the former with 
defection and perjury, and became almost as much alienated 
from "the king's curates," as they called them, as from "the 
bishops' curates." 

In the same spirit of accommodation another plan was 
attempted, with as little success, in the following year (1670). 
Finding that the people, notwithstanding all the laws passed 
against deserting their parish churches, still preferred the ser- 
vices of the non-indulged Presbyterians, the council resolved 
to send a deputation to the West, composed of the ablest and 
subtlest of the Episcopal clergymen, to try if they could effect 
by reasoning and cajolery, what they had failed to do by force 
of arms. Leighton, now archbishop of Glasgow, took an 
active part in this negotiation, being anxious to employ lenient 
measures, with the view of uniting the Presbyterians and 
Episcopalians. The deputation consisted of six members, 
among whom the chief personage who figured in the debates 
which ensued was Gilbert Burnet, afterwards bishop of Salis- 
bury; another was Mr. James Aird, commonly called Bishop 
Leighton's ape, " because he could imitate his shrug and 
grimace, but never more of him;" 1 the rest were obscure 
characters, of whom nobody had ever heard before. The 
common people called them " the bishops' evangelists." 
There never was a more complete failure than this attempt to 
convert the Presbyterians. They could never gather a con- 
gregation, and never pretended to have made a single pro- 
selyte. The people, familiarized with the points of the con- 
troversy, were able to answer all the arguments which " the 
bishops' evangelists" could produce, and stood firm to their 
principles, unabashed by the presence of the noblemen who 
accompanied the deputation, and steadily refusing the offers 
of money by which they attempted to bribe the poorer classes 
to hear the curates. " The poor of the country," says Burnet, 
" came generally to hear- us, though not in great crowds. We 
were indeed amazed to see a poor commonalty so capable to 
argue upon points of government, and on the bounds to be 
set to the power of princes in matters of religion; upon all 
these topics they had texts of Scripture at hand, and were 
ready with their answers to anything that was said to them. 
This measure of knowledge was spread even among the 

1 Kirkton, p. 294. 


meanest of them, their cottagers and their servants." J " So," 
says another, " they return disappointed of that senseless wyle, 
the like of which they never essayed, first or last, but only 
this once — force and cruelty being their ordinary arguments." 2 
Disappointed in this object, Archbishop Leighton, in the 
end of this year, introduced his famous Accommodation, the 
object of which was to reconcile Presbyterianism with a mod- 
erate Episcopacy. The meetings of presbytery were to be 
kept up, as they had been previous to 1638; the bishop was 
to be constant president or moderator, but to waive the right 
of putting a negative on their proceedings; in other respects, 
the form of Episcopacy was to be maintained, and no minister 
was to be ordained or inducted without his presence. In 
short, the bishop was to govern the Church, in conjunction 
with inferior presbyters in presbyteries and synods. It was 
easily seen, from the very first, that this was a mere snare to 
entrap the Presbyterians into subjection to the bishops; it was 
materially the same with the old device of constant moderator, 
by which King James formerly introduced Episcopacy; and 
submission to it, after Prelacy had been so solemnly con- 
demned and abjured by the Church of Scotland, would have 
involved them in a shameful breach of vows, for which no 
example could be drawn from the practice of their fathers. 
Long conferences were held with the ministers on this subject, 
but without success; nor can we, after all that has been said 
about the stiffness and bigotry of the Presbyterians, either 
wonder at or wail over the result. Such compromising mea- 
sures are seldom conceived in good faith, or followed with 
happy consequences. Episcopalians there have been, and 
there are, like Archbishop Leighton, with whom we would 
delight to live in fellowship, and for whom we " would even 
dare to die." But as systems of policy, Prelacy and Presby- 
tery are plainly incapable of amalgamation; the genius of the 
one is directly opposed to that of the other; and any plan 
of accommodation must necessarily involve the sacrifice, on 
one side or on the other, ol principles essential to their pro- 
per efficiency. Besides, the real design of the accommoda- 
tion was not union, but the extinction of Presbytery; and 
had our ancestors yielded to it Prelacy would certainly have 
triumphed. The motives of Leighton we are not disposed to 
1 Hist. i. 451. 2 Memoirs of Blackader, p. 169. 


suspect; it would appear that he was actuated by a sincere 
desire to produce peace; but it is equally undeniable that, 
with all his readiness to concede, he was a keen supporter of 
Episcopal authority, and contemplated, as the result of his 
measure, its ultimate ascendency. Burnet speaks highly in 
praise of the part which the archbishop and he acted in this 
affair; but he adds: " Thus was their treaty broke off, to the 
amazement of all sober and dispassionate people, and to the 
great joy of Sharp and the rest of the bishops, who now, for 
a while, seemed even pleased with us (that is, Leighton and 
Burnet), because we had all along asserted Episcopacy, and 
had pleaded for it in a high and positive strain." How could 
he then find fault with the opposite party for asserting Presby- 
tery, and pleading for it in as " high and positive a strain?" 
And what peace could be expected from a union in which 
both parties were "allowed to hold such conflicting opinions? 
" The reproaches," says one of the Presbyterian ministers 
employed in this conference, which was managed by them 
with the utmost candour and good temper — " the reproaches 
of ungovernable and unpeaceable may indeed be bitter unto 
ingenuous spirits, let be sincere lovers of the Prince of peace; 
and the persecution of men may possibly proceed to afflict 
and vex; but seeing that, through Satan's and the world's 
known enmity against the Lord and all his followers, these 
things are, in place of the opprobrium, become rather the 
badge of truth, only let our conversation be as becometh the 
gospel, and let us stand fast in one spirit, with one mind 
striving together for the pure ordinances of God's house once 
given unto us, nothing terrified by our adversaries. There 
is, I confess, one temptation, which doth more speciously 
insinuate, and that is, the loss of the liberty of the gospel, 
which men may possibly, in their displeasure, abridge or 
totally take from us. But as this solicitude is not more 
praiseworthy, when devolved on our Lord and Master, than 
subtly deceitful, when its application is, Spare thyself; so 
let none of these things move us, neither let us reckon our 
lives dear unto ourselves, so that we may finish our course 
with joy, and the ministry which we have received of the 
Lord Jesus. Let, therefore, truth, simplicity, and godly sin- 
cerity be our main study, and faith and entire submission our 
onlv establishment: knowing, and on this restine. that not 



only our peace here shall be our portion, and the end ever- 
lasting life; but that God can as easily of our ashes raise up 
ministers to himself, as of stones children to Abraham." 1 

The effects of the indulgence, so coolly anticipated by 
Sharp, soon began to appear. Before this time field-meet- 
ings had been very rare, and were held, for the most part, 
in private houses or barns; now, however, they began to be 
held in the open fields, and were resorted to by great multi- 
tudes from all quarters. The ministers who officiated were 
those who had refused the indulgence, or to whom, from 
their known hostility to the prelatic government, the bene- 
fits of that act were not extended. In those times few 
gentlemen rode to any distance unarmed, and as many of 
them brought their weapons to the field-meetings, though 
merely for personal defence, the bishops began to represent 
them as tumultuary assemblages, and "rendezvouses for 
rebellion." Among the first "armed conventicles," as they 
were termed, was one kept by Mr. Blackader and Mr. Dick- 
son at Beath Hill, above Dunfermline, on the 18th of June, 
1670. An immense multitude had assembled. While the 
minister was preaching, a lieutenant of militia came up on 
horseback, evidently with the view of reconnoitring, and was 
in the act of riding off to bring up his troops when some of 
the gentlemen told him very civilly to wait till the service 
was over. The officer began to bluster, when one of the 
gentlemen, drawing his pistol, told him, that unless he 
remained quiet he would shoot him on the spot; so that he 
found himself obliged to sit peaceably on his horse until 
public worship was concluded, when he was set at liberty. 
Exaggerated accounts of this " horrid insult " were speedily 
conveyed to Edinburgh; the ruling powers took the alarm, 
and immediately the severest edicts were passed against 
" conventicles." All field-meetings were made treasonable, 
and in the case of the ministers it was declared capital it 
any were present at them — a piece of bloodthirsty legisla- 
tion which the king is said to have condemned, and which 
was not, for some time at least, carried into execution. 

Instead of repressing conventicles, all the efforts employed 
by government only seemed to augment their number, and 
increase the boldness of those who frequented them. Ever 
1 Case of the Accommodation Examined, p. 96. 

1670-77.] FIELD MEETINGS. 307 

since the severities exercised on those who were at Pentland 
the cause of Prelacy had been on the decline; the people, 
who were almost to a man against the indulgence, began 
to leave the churches empty, and follow the proscribed 
preachers, whom they admired for the zeal, the fidelity, and 
the freedom with which they delivered their message. They 
still disclaimed all designs except self-defence in the enjoy- 
ment of their religious privileges; but they met in such 
numbers and array, as to set the militia at defiance. On 
one occasion a very large meeting was held within sight ot 
the palace of Archbishop Sharp. The effect of these services 
was very remarkable; the ministers were visibly counte- 
nanced in their labours, and instances are on record of the 
most abandoned characters, and even of the troopers them- 
selves, who had come to disturb the meeting, having been 
suddenly struck with conviction, and brought to repentance. 

In course of time they began to celebrate the communion 
also in the open fields; and these were, indeed, to the weary 
wanderers, many of whom had suffered for their love to the 
gospel, " times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord." 
The following account of one of these communions, held at 
East Nisbet in the Merse, is drawn by Mr. John Blackader, 
who was a leading minister on the occasion which he 
describes, and will afford a better idea of the scenes to 
which we refer than any ideal picture : — 

" Meantime the communion elements had been prepared, 
and the people in Teviotdale advertised. Mr. Welsh and 
Mr. Riddell had reached the place on Saturday. When 
Mr. Blackader arrived he found a great assembly, and still 
gathering from all airts. The people from the east brought 
reports that caused great alarm. It was rumoured that the 
Earl of Hume, as ramp a youth as any in the country, 
intended to assault the meeting with his men and militia, 
and that parties of the regulars were coming to assist him. 
He had profanely threatened to make their horses drink the 
communion wine, and trample the sacred eleme?its imder foot. 
Most of the gentry there, and even the commonalty, were 
ill-set. Upon this we drew hastily together about seven or 
eight score of horse, on the Saturday, equipped with such 
furniture as they had. Pickets of twelve or sixteen men 
were appointed to reconnoitre and ride towards the suspected 


parts. Single horsemen were despatched to greater dis- 
tances to view the country and give warning in case of 
attack. The remainder of the horse were drawn round to be 
a defence, at such distance as they might hear sermon, and 
be ready to act if need be. Every means was taken to com- 
pose the multitude from needless alarm, and prevent, in a 
harmless defensive way, any affront that might be offered to 
so solemn and sacred a work. Though many, of their own 
accord, had provided for their safety — and this was the 
more necessary when they had to stay three days together, 
sojourning by the lions' dens, and the mou?itai?is of leopards — 
yet none had come armed with hostile intentions. 

" We entered on the administration of the holy ordinance, 
committing it and ourselves to the invisible protection of 
the Lord of hosts, in whose name we were met together. 
Our trust was in the arm of Jehovah, which was better than 
weapons of war, or the strength of hills. — The place where 
we convened was every way commodious, and seemed to 
have been formed on purpose. It was a green and pleasant 
haugh, fast by the water side (the Whittader). On either 
hand there was a spacious brae, in form of a half round, 
covered with delightful pasture, and rising with a gentle 
slope to a goodly height. Above us was the clear blue sky, 
for it was a sweet and calm Sabbath morning, promising to 
be indeed one of the days of the Son of man. There was a 
solemnity in the place befitting the occasion, and elevating 
the whole soul to a pure and holy frame. The communion 
tables were spread on the green by the water, and around 
them the people had arranged themselves in decent order. 
But the far greater multitude sat on the brae face, which 
was crowded from top to bottom — full as pleasant a sight 
as ever was seen of that sort. Each day at the congrega- 
tion's dismissing the ministers with their guards, and as 
many of the people as could, retired to their quarters in 
three several country towns, where they might be provided 
with necessaries. The horsemen drew up in a body till the 
people left the place, and then marched in goodly array 
behind at a little distance, until all were safely lodged in 
their quarters. In the morning, when the people returned 
to the meeting, the horsemen accompanied them: all the 
three parties met a mile from the spot, and marched in a 

1670-77-] AN OPEN-AIR COMMUNION. 309 

full body to the consecrated ground. The congregation 
being all fairly settled in their places, the guardsmen took 
their several stations, as formerly. These accidental volun- 
teers seemed to have been the gift of Providence, and they 
secured the peace and quiet of the audience; for, from 
Saturday morning, when the work began, until Monday 
aftemoon, we suffered not the least affront or molestation 
from enemies; which appeared wonderful. At first there 
was some apprehension, but the people sat undisturbed, and 
the whole was closed in as orderly a way as it had been in 
the time of Scotland's brightest noon. And truly the spec- 
tacle of so many grave, composed, and devout faces must 
have struck the adversaries with awe, and been more formi- 
dable than any outward ability of fierce looks and warlike 
array. We desired not the countenance of earthly kings; 
there was a spiritual and divine Majesty shining on the 
work, and sensible evidence that the great Master of assem- 
blies was present in the midst. It was indeed the doing of 
the Lord, who covered us a table in the wilderness, in 
presence of our foes; and reared a pillar of glory between 
us and the enemy, like the fiery cloud of old that separated 
between the camp of Israel and the Egyptians — encouraging 
to the one, but dark and terrible to the other. Though our 
vows were not offered within the courts of God's house, they 
wanted not sincerity of heart, which is better than the 
reverence of sanctuaries. Amidst the lonely mountains we 
remembered the words of our Lord, that true worship was not 
peculiar to Jerusalem or Samaria — that the beauty of holi- 
ness consisted not in consecrated buildings or material 
temples. We remembered the ark of the Israelites which 
had sojourned for years in the desert, with no dwelling-place 
but the tabernacle of the plain. We thought of Abraham 
and the ancient patriarchs who laid their victims on the 
rocks for an altar, and burnt sweet incense under the shade 
of the green tree. 

" The ordinance of the Last Supper, that memorial of his 
dying love till his second coming, was signally countenanced 
and backed with power and refreshing influence from above. 
Blessed be God, for he hath visited and confirmed his 
heritage when it was weary. In that day Zion put on the 
beauty of Sharon and Carmel; the mountains broke forth 


into singing, and the desert place was made to bud and 
blossom as the rose. Few such days were seen in the 
desolate Church of Scotland; and few will ever witness the 
like. There was a rich effusion of the Spirit shed abroad in 
many hearts; their souls, filled with heavenly transports, 
seemed to breathe in a diviner element, and to burn 
upwards as with the fire of a pure and holy devotion. The 
ministers were visibly assisted to speak home to the con- 
science of the hearers. It seemed as if God had touched 
their lips with a live coal from off his altar; for they who 
witnessed declared, they carried more like ambassadors 
from the court of heaven, than men cast in earthly mould. 

" The tables were served by some gentlemen and persons 
of the gra\est deportment. None were admitted without 
tokens as usual, which were distributed on the Saturday, but 
only to such as were known to some of the ministers or per- 
sons of trust to be free of public scandals. All the regular 
forms were gone through. The communicants entered at 
one end and retired at the other, a way being kept clear to 
take their seats again on the hill-side. Mr. Welsh preached 
the action sermon and served the first two tables, as he was 
ordinarily put to do on such occasions. The other four 
ministers, Mr. Blackader, Mr. Dickson, Mr. Riddell, and 
Mr. Rae, exhorted the rest in their turn; the table service 
was closed by Mr Welsh with solemn thanksgiving; and 
solemn it was, and sweet and edifying to see the gravity and 
composure of all present, as well as of all parts of the service. 
The communion was peaceably concluded, all the people 
heartily offering up their gratitude, and singing with a joyful 
voice to the Rock of their salvation. It was pleasant as the 
night fell to hear their melody swelling in full unison along 
the hill; the whole congregation joining with one accord, 
and praising God with the voice of psalms. 

" There were two long tables and one short across the 
head, with seats on each side. About a hundred sat at every 
table. There were sixteen tables in all, so that about three 
thousand two hundred communicated that day." 1 

We are unwilling to injure by any reflections of ours the 
impression which this beautiful and authentic description of 

1 Blackader's Mem. MSS. Adv. Lib. ; Crichton's Memoirs of Blackader, 
pp. 198-206. 


a Scottish Covenanter's communion is fitted to leave on the 
reader. But we cannot conclude the present chapter with- 
out observing how much their enemies have belied these 
brave, pious, and much-enduring men, when they represent 
them as animated by the spirit of the gloomiest bigotry and 
the wildest fanaticism — enemies to all civil order, and stran- 
gers to everything that can humanize and exalt mankind. 
We have seen how peaceful, how holy, how harmless, their 
intentions were; and after reading such a description from 
the pen of an old Presbyterian minister, can we suppose they 
were really men of coarse and vulgar minds, so incapable of 
relishing the beauties of external nature, or entering into the 
finer feelings of the heart, as they have been represented? 
Even in a literary point of view it is exquisitely fine, and 
presents a striking contrast to the rant and extravagance 
usually put into the mouths of the Covenanters. And on 
contemplating such a scene as that now described the re- 
flection is apt to rise — Were these the men who in a few 
years afterwards were trampled on by the dragoons of the 
bloody Claverhouse, shot in the fields, or dragged as felons 
to attest by a more ignominious death on the scaffold, how 
dearly they loved and how deeply they feared the God of 
their fathers? If in after years some were driven by oppres- 
sion almost literally mad — if, hunted from mountain to moor, 
and from moor to mountain, they gave way to excesses with 
which in the hour of cool reflection and in the day of peace 
we cannot sympathize, these certainly cannot be traced either 
to the character of the men or the religion they professed ; 
but to the ruthless violence and tyranny of their enemies, 
who were thus rendered responsible not only for the blood 
they shed, but for those very excesses which they made the 
pretext for shedding it. 

It may be interesting to state here, that of the five mini- 
sters who officiated at this communion, and who held fre- 
quent meetings of the same kind, four were afterwards 
imprisoned on the Bass Rock, namely, Messrs. Blackader, 
Dickson, Riddell, and Rae; the other, Mr. John Welsh, 
though the most active at these conventicles, they could never 
apprehend. Mr. Blackader, the amiable, the undaunted, 
and the faithful minister who drew the above description, 
died in the Bass, in his seventieth year, of a distemper con- 


tracted in that damp and unwholesome prison. His only 
crime was that he had preached at these conventicles, and 
that he would not submit to any restrictions on his mini- 
sterial freedom. And yet none of these men advocated ex- 
treme measures. They belonged to what was termed " the 
moderate party" among the Presbyterians; and declined to 
take part with those who threw off all allegiance to the 
government, and all communion with those who accepted 
the indulgence. When Sir Robert Hamilton, who headed 
the small party afterwards known as Cameronians, ordered 
them to preach against the indulgence, Mr. Rae, in name of 
the rest, replied, " that he had been wrestling against Eras- 
tianism in the magistrate for many years, and he would 
never truckle to the worst kind of Erastianism in the com- 
mon people — that he would receive no instructions from 
him nor any of them as to the matter of his sermons; and 
wished Hamilton might mind what belonged to him, and 
not go beyond his sphere and station." 1 

1 Wodrow, vol. iii. p. 93. 

1677 — 1679. 

The blinks — Trial and execution of Mitchell — Assassination oj Archbishop 
Sharp — Severe proceedings against the Presbyterians — Sir George Mac- 
kenzie — Graham of Claverhonse — The Highland host — The Cess — The 
skirmish at Drumclog — Battle of Botlnvell Bridge. 

The interval between 1669, when the indulgence was in- 
troduced, and 1676, the year immediately preceding that 
on which we now enter, was a period of comparative quiet 
to the Presbyterians, who, though still molested in various 
ways for their nonconformity, continued, notwithstanding the 
severe edicts passed against them from time to time, to con- 
vene in large numbers for public worship in the open fields. 
Many of the landed proprietors and tenantry suffered severely 
from the fines imposed on them for this offence, but they 
took joyfully the spoiling of their goods; and the brief inter- 
vals of peace during which they were permitted to enjoy the 
precious ordinances of religion, and which were emphati- 
cally termed in rustic phrase the blinks, amply compensated 
for the passing storms that preceded and followed them. 
Hitherto these meetings, or conventicles as they were called, 
though held in wild and unfrequented parts of the country, 
and attended by some in arms for self-defence, had been 
conducted with all the decorum of a worshipping assembly 
collected within the walls of a chapel. As we advance, 
however, the scene assumes a sterner aspect. Through the 
unrelenting violence of persecution these decent congrega- 
tions were transformed into what their persecutors had at 
first, either from terror or in malice, falsely represented them 
to be — battalions of armed men resolved to defy opposition, 
and prepared to take the field against their aggressors. 

Several causes concurred to produce this change. By a 


series of oppressive measures the minds of the people at 
large had become soured against the government, and par- 
ticularly against the bishops, whom they regarded as the 
chief instigators of all these proceedings. But certain inci- 
dents, originating in the imbittered feelings of individuals, 
prepared for the explosion. Among these may be men- 
tioned the cruel treatment and execution of James Mitchell 
the preacher, who, some years before, had attempted the life 
of Archbishop Sharp. How he had contrived to elude his 
pursuers since that daring exploit we are not informed; but 
in 1674 he was recognized at a minister's funeral and appre- 
hended. Sharp, it is said, retained a lively recollection of 
the features of the man, but there was no other proof; and 
though Mitchell freely confessed his accession to the rising 
at Pentland, he would not acknowledge that he was the per- 
son who made the attempt on the archbishop, until he 
obtained an assurance of his life. This was given him by 
the chancellor in these solemn words: " Upon my great oath 
and reputation, if I be chancellor, I will save your life." 
Sharp also is said to have sworn with uplifted hand that no 
harm should come to him if he made a full discovery. 1 
Upon these assurances Mitchell made a full confession. 
Having thus induced him to become his own accuser, the 
council consulted what should be done with him. Some 
were for cutting off his right hand; others, alleging that he 
might learn to practise with his lefc, proposed that both 
hands should be amputated; others, that he should be sent 
to the Bass Rock, now used as a place of confinement for 
the Covenanters. Previous to this, however, it was thought 
necessary to make him repeat his confession in a court of 
judicature. On being brought up for this purpose, the 
judge, who was no friend to Sharp, whispered to the prisoner 
in passing to the bench, " Confess nothing, unless you are 
sure of your limbs as well as your life." Alarmed at this 
suggestion, and knowing that his former confession, being 
extrajudicial, could not be legal evidence against him. Mit- 
chell refused to repeat or judicially subscribe it. The coun- 
cil pretended to take offence at this, and passed an act. in 
which, after stating the fact that the prisoner " did confess 
upon his knees that he was the person, upon assurance given 
1 Burnet's Hist. i. 176. 


him by one of the committee as to his life, who had war ram 
from the lord-commissioner and secret council to give the same,' 1 
they declare that since he had retracted his confession, they 
likewise recalled their promise of pardon; "the meaning of 
which," says Burnet, " was this, that if any other evidence 
was brought against him the promise should not cover him ; 
but it was still understood that this promise secured him 
from any ill effect by his own confession." 1 

Whatever the understanding of the council might be, 
Mitchell was sent to the tolbooth, where he lay for two 
years, forgotten by all but Sharp, who could not rest in peace 
so long as his enemy was in life. In 1676 he was again 
brought before the council, to be examined by torture con- 
cerning his share in the Pentland insurrection. The firmness 
with which the prisoner bore this shocking and disgraceful 
treatment, invested his character with an importance which 
did not otherwise belong to it. He boldly refused to become 
his own accuser. " Sir," cried the president, pointing to 
the boots lying on the table before him, " we will cause a 
sharper thing make you confess — you see what is on the 
table!" "My lord," said Mitchell, "I confess that by tor- 
ture you may cause me to blaspheme God, as Saul did com- 
pel the saints ; but if you shall, my lord, put me to it, I here 
protest before God and your lordships, that nothing thus 
extorted from me shall be made use of against me in judg- 
ment. To be plain with you, my lords, I am so much of a 
Christian, that whatever your lordships shall legally prove 
against me, if it be a truth I shall not deny it; but, on the 
other hand, I am so much of a man and a Scotsman, that 
I can never hold myself obliged by the law of God, nature, 
or the nation, to become mine own accuser." The execu- 
tioner was called, and having bound the prisoner in an arm- 
chair, he asked which of the legs he should put in the boot. 
They said he might take either of them he pleased; and he 
was about to select the left one, when Mitchell said, " Since 
the judges have not determined, take the best of the two, 
for I freely bestow it in the cause," and put his right leg in 
the engine. " My lords," he then said, " not knowing that 
I shall escape this torture with my life, I beseech you 
to remember, he who showeth no mercy shall have judg- 

1 Burnet's Hist. i. 177. 


ment without mercy. And I do entreat that God may 
never lay it to the charge of any of you, as I beg that he 
may be pleased, for His Son Christ's sake, to blot out my 
sins, and never lay them to my charge, here or hereafter." 
Nine strokes were given to the wedges of the horrid in- 
strument, and after every stroke, to the question if he had 
any more to say, he replied, " No more, my lord." At the 
ninth he fainted, through agony, and the executioner ex- 
claimed, "Alas! my lord, he is gone, he is gone;" upon 
which he was carried to prison in the chair in which he had 

He was afterwards sent to the Bass ; and two years longer 
did this maimed prisoner, against whom nothing had as yet 
been legally proved, lie in confinement, till, Sharp being 
determined to have his life, he was brought to trial in Janu- 
ary, 1678. The prisoner's counsel pleaded in his behalf the 
promise of life which had been given him; but to the 
astonishment of the whole country, it was confidently denied 
by Rothes, the chancellor, and the other lords of council, 
that any such promise had been made. Sharp, likewise, 
solemnly denied that he had given any such assurance, and 
that, too, in the face of the deposition of the person to whom 
he had made it. It was then proposed to examine the 
registers of the council to ascertain the fact; but Lauderdale 
said he was sure it was not possible, and would not give 
himself the trouble to look for it. Mitchell was condemned 
to suffer death; and as soon as the court broke up, their 
lordships went up-stairs, where, to be sure, they found the 
act recorded, and signed by Rothes, as president of the 
council. Some proposals were then made for a reprieve ; 
but Sharp insisted that the sentence should be fulfilled, on 
the ground that if favour were shown to such an assassin, it 
would be, in effect, exposing his person to any man who 
would attempt to murder him." " Then," said Lauderdale, 
with his usual coarseness, " let Mitchell glorify God in the 
Grassmarket." l And there, accordingly, he was executed 
on the 1 8th of January, submitting to his fate with the utmost 
heroism and resignation. 2 

We cannot be expected to vindicate the crime with which 

1 Burnet, i. 181. 

2 Wodrow, i. 375-377, and 510-513, fol. ; Naphtali, App. 


this person stood charged. Had it been legally proved 
against him, his ignominious end was no more than what 
the law demanded, and little more could have been said 
than that this was another added to the list, if not of martyrs 
to the truth, at least of victims to the tyranny by which the 
truth was oppressed. With the exception of this one rash act 
perpetrated under mistaken notions of duty, the character 
of the man seems to have been irreproachable, notwithstand- 
ing the aspersions of those who have attempted to vindicate 
the judges by blackening the reputation of the criminal. 1 
But even had Mitchell been as unprincipled as they would 
represent him, this could never justify the shameful breach 
of public faith and perversion of justice manifested in his 
treatment. 2 

On this tale of perfidy and cruelty we would not have 
dwelt so long, had it not been closely connected with another 
deadly tragedy. We refer to the assassination of Archbishop 
Sharp. The details of this transaction are too well known; 
for it has been the policy of the enemies of our Presbyterian 
ancestors to paint it in the most hideous colours, and bring 
it forward on all occasions, as quite sufficient to justify all 

1 We allude to Dr. Hicks, Lauderdale's chaplain, and to the writer of 
a scurrilous pamphlet, published after the Revolution, which was filled with 
such notorious falsehoods, that even Hicks disclaimed it publicly, but which 
falsehoods have been repeated by Mr. C. K. Sharpe, in his edition of Kirk- 
ton's History. (See Wodrow, ii. 454.) 

2 "And thus," says Fountainhall, "they hunted this poor man to death, 
a prey not worthy of so much pains, trouble, and obloquy, as they incurred 
by it; and some of their own friends and well-wishers desired they had never 
dipped in it, but only kept him in perpetual imprisonment; for it made a 
wonderful noise in the country, who generally believed the law was stretched 
to get his neck stretched, and they feared preparatives; and satires and 
bitter verses immediately flew abroad like hornets in great swarms, which 
were caressed and pleasantly received, speaking much acrimony, and an 
almost universal discontent. He was but a simple melancholy man, and 
owns the fact, in the papers he left behind him, as an impulse of the Spirit 
of God, and justifies it from Phinehas killing Cosbi and Zimri, and from that 
law in Deuteronomy commanding to kill false prophets that seduced the 
people from the true God. This is a da??ge?vus principle, and asserted by 
no sober Presbyterian. On the scaffold they beat drums when he began to 
touch the chancellor. They say Major Johnston undertook to stab him if 
he had attempted to escape, or any had offered to rescue him. The secret 
council would have given him ane reprievall, if the archbishop would have 
consented." [Foii?itainhaU's Historical Notices of Scottish Affairs.) All 
the facts stated in the text are confirmed by Fountainhall, who represents 
the conduct of Sharp and the council in a light still more odious than is 
done in the text. [Hist. Notices, p. 182, et seq. See also his Historical 

-ves, App. Xo. 3.) 


the severities they suffered, and verify all the calumnies 
heaped upon them. The circumstances of the case, in 
which the accounts on both sides materially agree, were 
briefly and simply these; A fellow of the name of Carmichael, 
a bankrupt merchant, and once a bailie in Edinburgh, had 
long acted in Fifeshire as a subordinate agent of Sharp, in 
prosecuting the nonconformists. In this office Carmichael 
recommended himself by his extreme severity, harassing, 
fining, torturing, and imprisoning men, women, and children. 
From these oppressions it was vain to seek redress; they 
were inflicted under the sanction of that very law to which, 
in other circumstances, the sufferers would have had recourse 
for protection; and, with their spirits fretted and chafed by 
the atrocities of this minion of oppression, they were driven 
to adopt a mode of relief which can never be vindicated, 
and from which they themselves would, in better times, 
have recoiled. On the 3d of May, 1679, twelve persons, 
including some gentlemen of good family, met together, and 
resolved to rid themselves of Carmichael by putting him to 
death, or at least by frightening him from that part of the 
country. 1 While watching for their victim, they were unex- 
pectedly apprised that the archbishop himself was in the 
neighbourhood, and would shortly pass that way. In their 
excited and enthusiastic state, they looked upon this substi- 
tution as a sort of providential call upon them to free the 
country from one whom they justly regarded as the principal 
cause of all the bloodshed and oppressions of their brethren. 
" It seems," said they, abusing the language of Scripture, 
" that the Lord hath delivered him into our hands." During 
the hurried consultation which ensued, about mid-day, in a 
place called Magus Moor, near St. Andrews, the carriage of 
the archbishop drove up. He was on his return from Edin- 
burgh, where he had only two days before succeeded, after 
a great struggle, in prevailing on the council to agree to a 

1 Among these the principal persons were David Hackston of Rathillet, 
and John Balfour, or Burley, as he was sometimes called — both brave 
men — though it does not appear that Balfour was a religious character, 
which Hackston certainly was. James Russell, another of the conspirators, 
who afterwards drew up an account of the transaction, was "a man of a 
hot and fiery spirit," and appears to have been the chief instigator of the 
attack on the archbishop. The whole of them may be justly termed enthu- 
siasts, and no fair specimen of the sober and serious portion of the Presby- 
terian population. 


severe proclamation against conventicles, making it treason 
for any to be found at field-meetings in arms; and on 
the following week he was to have taken a journey to court, 
to use his interest for more vigorous and stringent measures 
against the Presbyterians. The bishop was accompanied by 
his daughter, and no sooner saw the approach of the con- 
spirators than he took the alarm, and ordered the coachman 
to drive with all possible speed. The carriage, however, 
was soon stopped — the servants disarmed, and the prelate 
sternly ordered to come out, and prepare for death. " I 
take God to witness," said the leader of the party, " that it 
is not out of any hatred of your person, nor from any preju- 
dice you have done, or could do to me, that I intend now 
to take your life; but because you have been, and still con- 
tinue, an avowed opposer of the gospel and kingdom of 
Christ, and a murderer of his saints, whose blood you have 
shed like water." He was then reminded of his perjury and 
cruelty, particularly in the case of James Mitchell. To all 
this, Sharp only replied by abject entreaties for mercy. He 
promised them indemnity — he offered them money — he even 
engaged to lay down his episcopal function if they would 
spare his life. But the conspirators had gone too far to 
recede. They remembered his past perfidy, and paid no 
respect to his promises; they remembered his inhumanity, 
and told him that as he had shown no mercy to others, he 
was to expect none from them. They earnestly and repeat- 
edly called on him to pray, and prepare for death; and 
upon his refusing to do so, one of them fired upon him in 
the coach. The wretched man was at length compelled to 
come out, and on his knees he repeated his cries for mercy, 
appealing particularly to Hackston, who stood aloof, refusing 
to lay hands on him, but declining to interfere on his behalf 
One only of their number pleaded for his life ; the rest, after 
in vain attempting to prevail on him to prepare for his fate, 
fell upon him with their swords, and, in spite of the frantic 
outcries of his daughter, despatched him with numerous 

It is impossible to justify this bloody and desperate action 
on any sound principles ; and the great body of the Presby- 
terians, though they regarded it with awe, as the judgment 
of Heaven, yet viewing it as the deed of man, condemned 


and disclaimed it. The mind revolts from contemplating 
such a scene, and the horror which it inspires is enhanced 
rather than abated by the reflection, that the wretched vic- 
tim too well deserved his fate, and was hurried into eternity 
without manifesting any signs of repentance for his past life. 
From all accounts, it appears that the whole affair was un- 
premeditated, unthought of till within a few minutes of its 
execution; that it was the deed of a few desperate and hard- 
driven men, who acted without any concert with their 
brethren; and that it arose from their proceeding on the 
indefensible principle, that, the doors of public justice being 
shut, it became the duty of private individuals to execute 
the; vengeance of God on notorious oppressors of the Church. 
At the same time, it is impossible not to feel indignant at 
the attempt of government at the time to fasten this crime 
on the whole body of Scottish Presbyterians. In a procla- 
mation issued on the day after the assassination of Sharp, 
after describing the offence in the most exaggerated terms, it 
is added, "Daily instances whereof we are to expect, whilst 
field-conventicles, those rendezvouses of rebellion, and for- 
gers of all bloody and Jesuitical principles, are so frequented 
and followed." " These field-conventicles," says V. T odrow, 
•'were hitherto as free of any such doctrine as the churches 
were, and neither taught nor vindicated this attempt upon 
the bishop; and if we shall judge of principles from inciden- 
tal actions of some in a society, we know where to lodge 
many murders in cold blood, for one alleged upon the fre- 
quenters of conventicles. And as in the whole of these 
twenty-eight years I am describing, there are but four or five 
instances of anything like assassinations attempted that I 
mind of, and no?ie of them ever defended that I know of; so, 
in a few months time, we shall find twenty times that num- 
ber cut off, without any process or ground, by people upon 
the other side." 1 There can be no question that the period 
was characterized by a striking disregard of human life. 
Allowances must be made for this on both sides. But when 
we hear the wailings of certain modern writers over the death 
of Archbishop Sharp, and the execrations which they launch 
not only against the actual perpetrators, but the whole of the 
Presbyterians of these times, we are tempted to inquire why 

1 Wodrow, i. --. fol. 



so much indignation should be expended on this deed, while 
not a drop of sympathy is allowed for the hundreds of poor 
people who were slain in fields, and in cold blood, by a 
ruthless soldiery, for no other crime than a bare suspicion 
that they were Whigs, or because they would not answer the 
ensnaring questions put to them in such a way as to please 
their military judges and executioners? If it is alleged that 
these persons were put to death at least under the sanction 
of law — we might answer in the words of the patriotic Lord 
Russel, who suffered shortly after this, that " killing by forms 
of law is the worst sort of murder." And if it is because 
the deed assumed the form of assassination that their sym- 
pathies for Sharp are so powerfully awakened, we are entitled 
to ask, Why are they not prepared to manifest the same vir- 
tuous abhorrence of the same crime in all similar cases? 1 

It is a remarkable fact that, notwithstanding all the efforts 
made by the government for apprehending the actors in the 
assassination of Sharp, none of those actively concerned was 
ever discovered. Hackston, indeed, afterwards suffered; 
but it was for his appearance in arms, not for his share in 
this transaction. The only individual executed expressly for 
the archbishop's death, was a poor weaver named Andrew 
Guillan, whose only share in the affair was that he was called 

1 Where is their sympathy for Dr. Dorislaus, who, because he had acted 
as assistant counsel against Charles I. , was assassinated by twelve individuals 
under the employment of the Marquis of Montrose, while he was unsus- 
piciously seated at table in his lodgings at the Hague? Where is then- 
sympathy for Ascham and others, who were shortly after murdered by the 
Royalists? Where is their indignation at the assassination of Colonel Rains- 
borough, with regard to which Mrs. Macaulay remarks, that Clarendon, 
"to his eternal infamy, applauds every circumstance of the foul, unmanly 
deed." [Brodie, iv. 137, 264.) And what Presbyterian writer has ever 
spoken of the death of Archbishop Sharp in any way approaching to the 
following by a Royalist writer, describing the assassination of Captain Man- 
ning, the spy? "His treachery being discovered, he was, by his majesty's 
command, sent to a strong castle. But his perfidiousness was so highly 
resented at court, that one of his majesty's servants (though contrary to 
order) pistolled him as he was lighting out of the coach at the castle gate, 
which, though it came far short of his desert, yet was not so well done, in 
sending the devil his due before his time, and robbing the hangman of his 
labour." {E?tgland's Triumph, p. 52.) It is Gibbon, we think, who declares 
he is more shocked and disgusted by reading the accounts of the execution 
of Servetus at Geneva, and the murder of Archbishop Sharp, than by all the 
tales of persecution, heathen or Christian. This frank acknowledgment of 
the infidel betrays the real truth, and leaves us no room to doubt that hatred 
to true piety, and not mere disgust at its perverted form, was the real source 
of the feeling expressed. 



out of his house to hold the horses of the actors; and even 
he was discovered merely by a trick of the advocate at his 
trial. At one of his examinations, the lawyer was aggravating 
the crime, and looking to Andrew, observed how shocking it 
was to murder the bishop when he was on his knees pray- 
ing. The simple man was so struck with the falsehood of this, 
that, forgetting his situation, he lifted up his hands and cried 
out, " O dreadful ! he would not pray one word for all that 
could be said to him." This sealed his doom. But the fact 
that such a deed should have been committed in open day, 
by such a number, and yet not one of the actual perpetra- 
tors discovered, affords a striking proof of the universal 
detestation into which Sharp had fallen. 

If any of the Presbyterians expected the fall of the arch- 
bishop to free them from persecution, they were grievously 
mistaken. Indeed, if we may judge from the consequences, 
we should say that Providence intended to teach them that 
it is not by such methods that his Church is to look for 
deliverance. The death of Sharp occasioned more blood- 
shed than ever he had effected during his life. For several 
years after, the first question put to any suspected of Pres- 
byterianism, was, " Do you think the death of Archbishop 
Sharp was murder?" a question which many had no hesita- 
tion in answering in the affirmative, though others scrupled 
to answer it at all, while some boldly declared that in their 
opinion it could not be canted murder. Those who declined 
answering, did so partly from being indignant at questions 
about a deed with which they had no concern; and partly 
because, though they themselves would have had no freedom 
to engage in it, they could not bring themselves to condemn 
the motives of the actors, or to rank them with common 
murderers. 1 This, however, did not avail them; their silence 
was taken as consent to the murder, and they were executed 
accordingly. The annals of the inquisition itself may in vain 

1 Sir Walter Scott's latest opinion as to Sharp's death is as follows: — 
"Such was the progress of a violent and wicked deed, committed by blinded 
and desperate men. It brought much scandal on the Presbyterians, though 
unjustly; for the moderate persons of that persuasion, comprehending the 
most numerous, and by far the most respectable of the body, disowned 
so cruel an action, although they might be at the same time of opinion 
that the archbishop, who had been the cause of many men's violent death, 
merited some such conclusion to his own." {Tales of a Grandfather, ii. 
2 95) 


be searched for intolerance equal to this — that men should 
be condemned to death, not for any crime they had done, 
but for the thoughts they entertained, or rather for the 
thoughts their judges presumed them to entertain, about a 
crime committed by others ! 

The place of Sharp at the council board was soon supplied 
by others animated by the same spirit, and determined to 
prosecute the same measures with a rancour heightened by 
revenge. Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, who had 
been made king's advocate the preceding year, was a person 
in all points qualified to execute the designs of the prelates. 
Harsh, haughty, and tyrannical in his disposition, mean and 
unscrupulous in his measures, and ingenious only in glossing 
over their atrocity, he was the fittest instrument that could 
have been found to execute the cruel laws under which he 
attempted to hide and justify the malignity of his nature. 
Burnet calls him "a slight and superficial man;" a very im- 
perfect description of one whose errors were those of the heart 
rather than of the head, and who is more justly characterized 
in the indignant lines of the author of The Sabbath : — 

" Whose favourite art was lying with address, 
Whose hollow promise helped the princely hand 
To screw confession from the tortured lips. 
Base hypocrite ! thy character, portrayed 
By modern history's too lenient touch, 
Truth loves to blazon with her real tints ; 
To limn of new thy half-forgotten name, 
Inscribe with infamy thy time-worn tomb, 
And make the memory hated as the man." 

It may be thought strange, considering the little sympathy 
towards the rulers at this time, how they could succeed in 
procuring so many convictions. But this is easily explained. 
In the first place, they took special care to select the jury 
from such classes of society or parts of the country as were 
most favourable to their measures. Thus, at the trial of Mit- 
chell, the jury was mostly composed of disbanded soldiers. 
Then, if any of the jurymen, as was frequently the case, 
showed a reluctance to convict, they were brow-beaten by the 
court, or threatened by the king's advocate with an assize 
of error. This relic of barbarous times was a power in- 
trusted to the public prosecutor, to bring any of the jurymen, 
or a majority of them, to trial, for not having decided accord- 


ing to the law as laid down to them. Of this absurd and tyr- 
annical engine to intimidate the jury Mackenzie made ample 
use; he no sooner observed any symptoms of hesitation, 
or a desire to befriend the prisoners at the bar, than, with a 
terrific frown, he would swear that if they did not give their 
verdict according to law, he knew what to do with them ! 

The sacred seat of justice being thus polluted and converted 
into an engine of tyranny, the prelates found another instru- 
ment equally well adapted for their purpose in the open field. 
We refer to John Graham of Claverhouse, a name, the very 
sound of which, till of late years, sent a shudder through 
every Scottish breast. Later attempts to invest it with the 
best attributes of the hero, have only revived that infamy 
under which it will certainly descend to the latest posterity. 
We shall not attempt to describe the character of this person. 
The unvarnished account of the actions of his life — a life 
spent in the pursuit of a military renown, acquired by mas- 
sacring, in cold blood, the helpless, unarmed, and unoffending 
peasantry of his country — w T ill furnish the best commentary 
on his character, as indeed it is the only picture of the man 
that has been handed down to us by genuine history. 

Among other schemes devised by the rulers of this period 
for provoking the Presbyterians to rebellion, we must not 
omit the invasion of the Highland host, as it was called, which 
had taken place the preceding year. The Duke of York and 
his friends, being anxious to find, or to create, some pretext 
for keeping up a standing army in England, with the view of 
advancing their design to restore Popery, it was agreed that 
a body of troops, levied in the Highlands, should be sent to 
quarter on the west country, where the strongest opposition 
had been manifested to Prelacy, and where it was expected 
that the plundering habits of these half-cultivated mountain- 
eers would be sure to stir up an insurrection. This nefarious 
design was readily acceded to by our Scottish councillors, 
who hoped to divide among themselves the estates that might 
be confiscated. " On Valentine's day," we are told, " instead 
of drawing mistresses they drew estates, and great joy appeared 
in their looks upon a false alarm that was brought them of an 
insurrection." 1 The more surely to effect their purpose, they 
prepared a bond, by which all noblemen, barons, and heritors, 

1 Burnet, ii. 184. 

1678.] THE HIGHLAND HOST. 325 

were to hold themselves obliged, under the heaviest penalties, 
not only to abstain from all conventicles themselves, but to 
prevent their "tenants, wives, bairns, and servants," from 
attending them; and in the event of their contravening this 
order, to apprehend them and bring them to justice. Some 
of the Ayrshire nobles and gentry, regarding this measure as 
levelled at them, went up to Edinburgh to remonstrate against 
it; which, says Burnet, "put Duke Lauderdale into such a 
frenzy, that, at the council table, he made bare his arms 
above the elbows, and swore by Jehovah he would make 
them enter into these bonds." Hearing that they intended 
to represent the state of matters to his majesty at London, an 
order was passed prohibiting any gentleman from leaving the 
country without permission from the council. Having thus 
made their preparations, the Highland host, to the number 
of eight thousand men, was mustered in January, 1678. 
Composed of " the very scum of that uncivilized country," 
squalid and half-clad, and carrying with them, besides the 
ordinary implements of war, " a good store of shackles, as if 
they were to lead back a vast number of slaves, and of thumb- 
locks to make their examinations with," they descended, like 
locusts, into the western shires, exciting everywhere mingled 
disgust and alarm. Being quartered upon the lieges, they 
laid hands on all portable goods within their reach, and com- 
mitted every species of outrage short of murder, making no 
distinction in their exactions between those that had taken 
and those that had refused the bond. At length the rulers, 
finding their object defeated, and that the people bore all 
without showing any symptoms of insurrection, dismissed the 
Highlanders, after a campaign of about three months, laden 
with spoil. " When this goodly army returned homeward," 
says Kirkton, " you would have thought, by their baggage, 
they had been at the sack of a besieged city; and, therefore, 
when they passed Stirling bridge, every man drew his sword, 
to show the world they had returned conquerors from their 
enemy's land ; but they might as well have shown the pots, 
pans, girdles, shoes, and other bodily and household furni- 
ture with which they were loaded." 1 Those who passed 
through Glasgow could not boast even of these trophies ; for, 
on approaching the bridge, they found it blockaded by the 
1 Kirkton, p. 390. 


students of the university, who compelled them to disgorge 
their prey, and allowed them to pass, forty at a time, as bare 
as they had come from their native hills. 1 

It will be necessary, however, to return to the west country, 
where the invasion of the Highland host was succeeded by 
oppressions which at length exasperated the country people 
to resistance. Among these we may notice the imposition 
of the cess, as it was termed, a tax raised expressly for main- 
taining the army intended to put down field-conventicles. 
A more odious tax can hardly be conceived. That they 
should not only be severely fined and punished for attend- 
ing these meetings, but compelled to pay for the means of 
suppressing them, was such an outrage on the feelings of 
the people, that we might be prepared to hear it would be 
almost universally resisted. Yet the greater part submitted 
to the tax, contenting themselves with a protest against its 
use; thus declaring their readiness to suffer for religion if 
they should be called to account, and at the same time 
avoiding even the appearance of evil by refusing the magis- 
trate's just right to levy cess and custom on the subjects. 
This, however, proved another "bone of contention;" the 
stricter and more rigid of the Presbyterians considering that 
by paying the cess they shared in the guilt of the purpose 
to which it was avowedly applied. The ministers who were 
banished to Holland loudly inveighed against the practice; 
and it was no doubt very easy for them, placed at a distance 
from the scene of oppression, as it may be for us who are 
free from all such exactions, to protest against those who 
yielded to them. But much may be said in behalf of those 
who submitted against their will to an imposition which they 
could not resist, and which, had they resisted, would have 
been wrested from them with the loss of all they possessed. 
On the other hand, the principles upon which some of the 
Presbyterians afterwards resisted the impost, and which are 
vindicated at great length in the Hind let Loose, were founded 
on the tyrannical character of the governors, and necessarily 
led to the casting off all allegiance or submission to the civil 

Meanwhile the severe edicts passed againsV all who ap- 
peared at conventicles had only the effect of inducing them 
1 Wodrow, ii. 413. 


to meet in greater numbers. On the 29th of May, 1679, tne 
day appointed for celebrating the restoration of Charles, a 
body of them amounting to eighty armed men, under the 
guidance of Sir Robert Hamilton, came to Rutherglen, where 
they extinguished the bonfires kindled in honour of the day, 
and affixed a declaration to the cross condemning all the 
proceedings of government since the Restoration; in confir- 
mation of which testimony they publicly burnt at the cross 
all the acts which had been emitted against the work of the 
Reformation, " as our enemies,'' said they, " perfidiously and 
blasphemously have burnt our holy covenants through several 
cities of these covenanted kingdoms." Without stopping to 
inquire how far this decisive step was consistent with pru- 
dence, we cannot fail to admire its honesty and boldness. 
The country, however, was not prepared for a general rising, 
and no due means had been taken to follow up the move- 
ment, or to meet the consequences. The government took 
the alarm, and Claverhouse was despatched to the west with 
a body of dragoons, having unlimited power to kill and 
destroy all whom he found in arms. On his way he came 
suddenly upon the town of Hamilton, where he seized Mr. 
John King, chaplain to Lord Cardross, with about fourteen 
others, and carried them away prisoners bound two and two, 
his men driving them before them like so many sheep. 

On Sabbath morning, the 1st of June, 1679, intelligence 
was brought to a large field-meeting held that day at Loudon- 
hill, of the approach of Claverhouse and his dragoons; upon 
which all who were armed resolved to leave the meeting, 
face the soldiers, and, if possible, relieve the prisoners. Ac- 
cordingly, about forty horse and one hundred and fifty or 
two hundred foot, came up with Claverhouse and his party 
near Drumclog, in the parish of Evandale, about a mile east 
from Loudonhill. 

The particulars of the skirmish which followed are well- 
known, having furnished matter for fictitious as well as 
authentic narratives by writers of opposite parties, coloured 
according to their principles or prejudices. 1 The following 

1 A very animated and graphic account of the battles of Drumclog and 
Bothwell Bridge appeared some years ago in an American work, and is re- 
printed in the recent editions of the Scots Worthies. It is said to have been 
taken from the lips of the laird of Torfoot, a veteran Covenanter, who had 
emigrated to America. The laird's description of the manly prowess, the 


are the simple facts, in which all authentic accounts agree. 
After a short and very warm engagement, Balfour of Burley 
with some horse, and Colonel Cleland with some of the 
infantry, boldly crossed the morass which lay between the 
combatants, and attacked the dragoons of Claverhouse with 
such impetuosity that they were soon put to flight, leaving 
about forty killed on the field. Claverhouse's horse was 
shot under him, and he himself narrowly escaped. Before 
commencing the engagement he had given the word, "No 
quarter," and ordered those who guarded King and the other 
persons to shoot them, in the event of his troops being 
worsted; but the soldiers were soon compelled to flee for 
their own safety, and the prisoners escaped. The dragoons 
taken by the Covenanters received quarter, and were dis- 
missed without harm, much to the displeasure of Hamilton, 
who insisted on their being dealt with as they intended to 
have dealt with the Covenanters. 

Panic-struck and filled with rage at his defeat, Claverhouse 
fled from the field of Drumclog, and never slackened rein 
till he reached Glasgow. Thither he was pursued by Hamil- 
ton, who made an attempt to take the city; but the inhabi- 
tants not only refused to rise, but shamefully maltreated 
some of his soldiers, who fell wounded in their streets. At 
this time Sir Robert's troops amounted, according to his 
own account, to about six thousand horse and foot. They 
consisted, it is true, chiefly of raw undisciplined countrymen, 
ill supplied with arms or ammunition; but had they been 
properly managed, such was their courage and determina- 
tion, that they might have kept the royal troops in check, 
and procured, if not victory, at least honourable terms. 
Unhappily, however, a spirit of disunion began to appear 
among their leaders, who, instead of combining against the 
common enemy, spent their time in hot disputes about 
points in which the most hearty and genuine friends of the 
Presbyterian cause differed from each other. 

These disputes referred to the indulgence; and it may ap- 

generosity, and cheerful devotion of the Covenanters, presents a most 
striking contrast to Sir Walter Scott's picture in his tale of Old Mortality. 
Both descriptions are highly coloured; but while the main facts are the 
same, there appears much more verisimilitude in the tale as told by the 
Covenanter, than in that of the novelist. The integrity of the American 
editor seems to be placed beyond all question. 

1679-1 DRUMCLOG. 329 

pear strange that there should have been any controversy about 
a subject with regard to the sinfulness of which all of them 
were agreed. The question agitated was not whether the in- 
dulgence was lawful, but whether the acceptance of it should 
be expressly condemned in the proclamation to be made by 
those who were in arms, and numbered among their causes 
of fasting. This was opposed by some as inexpedient, be- 
cause it would hinder many from joining them who were 
cordial friends to Presbytery; and it was proposed that this 
point should be reserved for the determination of a free 
General Assembly. 1 At the head of this party was Mr. 
John Welsh, whose expulsion from Irongray was formerly 
noticed, and who was not only in his own judgment opposed 
to the indulgence, but had been intercommuned for preach- 
ing in the fields for many years. Among all the eighteen 
ministers present, there was not one who had accepted the 
indulgence, or who approved of it. Sixteen of these mini- 
sters while they condemned the Erastianism of the indul- 
gence, and deplored the conduct of their brethren who had 
accepted it, were not prepared to exclude them from their 
ranks, or refuse aid from them in the common cause. 
Though they themselves could not conscientiously submit 
to the restrictions, or the acknowledgments implied in that 
insidious measure, they were disposed to make allowances 
for such of their brethren as had yielded under strong 
temptation or plausible arguments; and they argued, that 
whatever ecclesiastical censure their conduct might after- 
wards be found to deserve, to deny them in the meantime 
the opportunity of vindicating their rights and liberties, civil 
and religious, by excluding them from the army, would be 
no less presumptuous and unjust in principle, than it was 
preposterous in the present circumstances of the country. 

This liberal view of the subject was opposed by only two 
of the ministers, namely, Mr. Cargill and Mr. Douglas; but 
these were supported by a considerable number of the lay 
leaders of the army, at the head of whom was Sir Robert 
Hamilton. 2 Hamilton appears to have been a pious man, 
and of good intentions; but of narrow views, severe in his 

1 M'Crie's Miscellaneous Writings, Review of Tales, &c, p. 437. 

2 He is generally styled Sir Robert in the accounts of this period. He 
was a gentleman of good family, being brother to Sir William Hamilton of 


temper, and altogether unqualified by want of military talents 
and experience, for the command whi< h he assumed. He 
is charged, and apparently not without reason, with having 
been active in pushing Cargill, Cameron, 1 and some other 
ministers, to those extremes which produced a breach be- 
tween them and their brethren, with whom they had until 
of late acted in concert.- This party now began to main- 
tain that the king, by assuming an Erastian power over the 
Church, had forfeited all right to the civil obedient e of his 
subjects; a principle which had never been known in the 
Church of Scotland before, and which was afterwards carried 
to a great extent by Richard Cameron and his followers, 
who from him were termed Cameronians. On the pr 
occasion they insisted that there should be inserted in the 
statement of their quarrel a decided condemnation of those 
who had taken the benefit of the indulgence; and proceed- 
ing on a mistaken view of the principles advocated by the 
Church of Scotland in the time of the Engagement, and by 
the Protesters in their contendings against the public resolu- 
tions, they refused to admit any into their ranks but those 
who would condemn and testify against the indulgence.' 1 

The violence, pertinacity, and extravagance of this party, 
prevailed over the more sober counsels of their brethren; 
and the consequence was, that several of the latter left the 
army in disgust. Still, however, the great body of the people 
remained, and though placed in the most unfavourable 

Preston, to whose title and estates he would have succeeded had he not 
disowned the authority of William and Mary. [M'Crie's Mem. 0/ , 
&c, p. 452.) 

1 Richard Cameron was not present at Bothwell, being at that time in 
Holland, but he returned to Scotland shortly after. He declared to the 
ministers who licensed him, " that he would be a bone of contention among 
them; for if ever he preached against a national sin in Scotland, it should be 
against the indulgence, and for separation from the indulged." [P. 1 1 r alker's 
. resbyter, i. 292.) 

Mem. of Vcitch, &c, Notices of James Ure, p. 452. 1 . 1 
sorry I cannot retract the judgment here pronounced on the character of 
Hamilton, the correctness of which has been challenged by some, but which 
is borne out by the whole of his history, and refers entirely to his public 
management, without any reflection either on his piety, his integrity, or his 

3 M'Crie's Memoirs of Veitch, «.Vc, p. 453; Wilson's Relation of the 
Rising at Bothwell Bridge, p. 13, et seq. This writer's account is tinged with 
much party prejudice, and requires \<> be compared with other autb 
He lays the whole blame of the failure at Bothwell on Mr. Welsh and his 
friends, whom he terms the Erastian party. 


circumstances for meeting the enemy, they drew up with 
determined front at Bothwell Bridge, where they awaited 
their approach. The Covenanters behaved with the utmost 
gallantry, but, overpowered by superior numbers, they soon 
gave way, and the royal army obtained an easy victory over 
troops divided and disheartened by the conduct of their 
leaders. The dragoons of Claverhouse, burning with 
revenge for their recent defeat, pursued the fugitives, and 
more were killed in the flight than in the field. Four hun- 
dred fell in battle; twelve hundred surrendered themselves 
prisoners, many of whom were reserved to suffer a more 
ignominious death on the scaffold. A system of indiscrimi- 
nate carnage took place after the fight, on all in the neigh- 
bourhood whom the soldiers suspected of being Presbyterians, 
whether they had been on the field or not; so that multi- 
tudes perished of whom no account was taken, and no record 
has been preserved. This, however, was but " the beginning 
of sorrows." Scotland was placed under martial law, or 
rather at the mercy of military executioners ; and many who 
never had been near the field of battle, nor taken part in the 
rising, were slaughtered in the fields or public roads, while 
engaged at their usual labour, on the bare suspicion of their 
being inclined to favour the cause in which their countrymen 
had fallen. 

The conduct of the government towards the prisoners was 
characterized by the most disgraceful inhumanity. An act 
of indemnity, indeed, was passed, but with so many limita- 
tions, that the governors were left at ample liberty to select 
as many victims as they chose, to glut their vengeance, and 
appease the manes of Sharp. The two ministers, King and 
Kid, who had been rescued by the Covenanters at Drumclog, 
were afterwards apprehended and brought to trial. These 
gentlemen proved most satisfactorily that, though found 
among the insurgents, they had taken no share in their pro- 
ceedings; that they were, in fact, detained among them by 
force; that they had refused to preach to them, and so far 
from encouraging them to rebellion, had used every argu- 
ment to persuade them to return to their former loyalty and 
obedience; and that they had seized the first opportunity of 
escaping before the battle at Both well Bridge. 1 Notwith- 

1 Petition of Messrs. John King and Kid, Wodrow, iii. 133; Burns' edit. 


standing these proofs they were first tortured with the 
boots, and though nothing more could be elicited from 
them, they were condemned to die. On the afternoon 
of the same day (August 14, 1679) on which the king's in- 
demnity had been published by the magistrates of Edinburgh 
amidst the sound of trumpets and ringing of bells, these two 
innocent men were led forth to execution. As they ap- 
proached the gibbet, walking hand in hand, Mr. Kid remarked 
to his companion with a smile, " I have often heard and 
read of a kid sacrifice." On the scaffold they behaved with 
a serenity and fortitude becoming the cause in which they 
suffered. Both of them bore faithful witness to the cove- 
nanted Reformation, as attained between 1638 and 1650, 
testifying against the public resolutions, the act rescissory, 
and other defections from that cause; but solemnly disclaim- 
ing the charge of rebellion under which they suffered, and 
vindicating themselves from the imputation of Jesuitism 
with which their enemies attempted to blacken their charac- 
ters. " For that clause in my indictment," said Mr. Kid, 
" upon which my sentence of death is founded, viz., personal 
presence twice or thrice with that party whom they called 
rebels, for my own part, I never judged them, nor called 
them such. I acknowledge, and do believe, there were a 
great many there that came in the simplicity of their own 
hearts, like those that followed Absalom long ago. I am 
as sure, on the other hand, that there was a great party 
there that had nothing before them but the repairing of the 
Lord's fallen work, and the restoring of the breach, which 
is wide as the sea; and I am apt to think that such of these 
who were most branded with mistakes will be found to 
have been most single. But for rebellion against his 
majesty's person or lawful authority," he added, " the Lord 
knows my soul abhorreth it, name and thing. Loyal I 
have been, and wills every Christian to be so; and I was 
ever of this judgment, to give to Caesar the things that are 
Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." " I thank 
God," said Mr. King, '*' my heart doth not condemn me of 
any disloyalty. I have been loyal, and do recommend to 
all to be obedient to the higher powers in the Lord. And 
that I preached at field-meetings, which is the other ground 
of my sentence, I am so far from acknowledging that the 


gospel preached that way was a rendezvousing in rebellion, 
as it is termed, that I bless the Lord that ever counted me 
worthy to be a witness to such meetings, which have been 
so wonderfully countenanced and owned, not only to the 
conviction, but even to the conversion of many thousands. 
That I preached up rebellion and rising in arms against 
authority, I bless the Lord my conscience doth not condemn 
me in this, it never being my design; if I could have 
preached Christ, and salvation in his name, that was my 
work; and herein have I walked according to the light and 
rule of the word of God, and as it did become (though one 
of the meanest) a minister of the gospel." 1 Having made 
these solemn declarations of their principles, the two minis- 
ters were strangled to death, and their heads and arms 
having been cut off on another scaffold, were affixed beside 
the withered remains of James Guthrie. 

Five of the common prisoners were then selected for 
execution, and though not one of them had been implicated 
in the death of Sharp, of which they were accused, though 
never convicted, they were sent to be executed on Magus 
Moor, and their bodies were hung in chains on the spot 
where the primate was killed. No reason can be assigned 
for this shameful act of the government, but that, in their 
rage at not discovering the real perpetrators of that outrage, 
they determined, in spite of all proof, to throw the odium of 
it on the whole body of the Presbyterians. 

The fate of the rest of the prisoners was hardly less 
deplorable. Twelve hundred were huddled together into the 
Greyfriars' churchyard, with no other lodging than the cold 
earth, and no covering to shelter them from the weather 
— exposed to the brutal insults of the soldiers who guarded 
them, and who, if any of them attempted to lift a hand or a 
head to relieve their posture, shot at them without mercy. 
In this condition they were confined for five months. A 
few of them contrived to make their escape over the wall ; 
some were set free upon signing a bond, obliging themselves 
never again to take up arms against his majesty; and out of 
four hundred who remained, some died in prison, others, 
worn out with hunger and suffering, were freed on petition- 
ing for liberty to sign the bond. The rest, to the number 
1 Naphtali, pp. 427, 437, 438. 

334 THE STORY OF 1 1 1 1 1 SCOTTISH CHURCH. [1679. 

of two hundred and fifty-seven, were banished as slaves to 
Barbadoes. Early in the morning (November 15, 1679), 
these poor prisoners, many of whom were labouring under 
diseases produced by their barbarous confinement, were 
taken out of the churchyard, and, without any previous warn- 
ing, were put on board a ship in Leith roads, under the 
command of one Paterson, a Papist, who had contracted 
with government to transport them. There the two hun- 
dred and fifty-seven were stowed into a place hardly capable 
of containing a hundred persons, so closely packed that the 
greater part were obliged to stand, in order to make room 
for their sick and dying companions to stretch themselves; 
many of them fainted, or were suffocated from want of 
air; and the seamen, as if the spirit of persecution had infec- 
ted their usually generous natures, treated them with cruelty 
too shocking to be described. At length the vessel was 
overtaken by a storm on the coast of Orkney, and foundered 
on the rocks. All might have easily escaped; but, after 
securing the crew, the inhuman captain ordered the hatches 
to be locked upon the prisoners. Some forty or fifty con- 
trived to save themselves by clinging to the boards of the 
ship, but two hundred met with a watery grave. The wretch 
who was guilty of this cold-blooded murder was never called 
to account. But the fate of those who perished was merci- 
ful, when compared with that of their companions who 
escaped this martyrdom. These were banished as slaves to 
the plantations in Jamaica and New Jersey, where they were 
compelled to labour under a burning sun, in the same gang 
with the negroes; and of two hundred and sixty who were 
so disposed of at different times during the persecution, very 
few remained to be released from their bondage at the Re- 

The rising at Bothwell may be vindicated on the same 
principles as that at Pentland, and on principles somewhat 
different from those on which several who were actually en- 
gaged in the attempt and suffered for it were inclined to 
vindicate themselves. Some of these excellent men now 
went the length of disowning the authority of the king and 
government altogether. They contended that, by overturn- 
ing the true religion, by setting up Prelacy and Erastianism, 
by ruining the covenanted work of reformation, and by perse- 


cuting to the death its faithful adherents, Charles had perfidi- 
ously violated the conditions of his coronation oath, and for- 
feited all right to their allegiance. Another party, however, 
much more numerous though less conspicuous, because less 
violent and extreme, defended their appearance in arms on 
other grounds. While they condemned the proceedings of 
the government as arbitrary and tyrannical, they were not 
prepared to renounce their allegiance to it in civil matters.; 
they held with the compilers of our Confession, that " infi- 
delity or difference in religion doth not make void the magis- 
trate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from 
their due obedience to him;" and though they lamented as 
much as their brethren the general defection of all classes 
from the engagements of the covenant, they could not see 
how this denuded the sovereign of his authority, which they 
were ready to acknowledge so long as he was, by the com- 
mon consent of the nation, recognized as its ruler. At the 
same time, they considered themselves warranted to assume 
the attitude of self-defence against the intolerable oppres- 
sions and illegal encroachments which had, " contrary to all 
law and humanity," been practised on them; and the rea- 
sons on which they justified their appearing in arms were 
chiefly these — that all other modes of redress had been 
closed against them; and that they found it necessary for 
the defence of the Protestant religion and Presbyterian 
government, and for the preservation of his majesty's person 
and throne from the projects of Popish adversaries. A de- 
claration embodying these views was prepared and presented 
at the council of war, before the battle of Bothwell Bridge ; 
but through the opposition of the more violent leaders it 
was unhappily rejected. 1 There is reason to believe that 
this paper contained the sentiments of the most judicious, 
as well as of the great majority of the suffering Presbyterians; 
and that, had it been adopted, it might have recommended 
their cause more to the country at large, procured greater 
accessions to their numbers, and perhaps have insured suc- 
cess at an earlier period of the contest. 

In venturing these remarks we are far, very far, from 
allowing that those of the Covenanters who openly cast off 
allegiance to Charles suffered justly. However much they 
1 This declaration is given in Wodrow's Hist. iii. 96. 

$$6 If! I " STORY OF ! DISH CHURCH. [1679. 

might be mistaken in stating the grounds of their appear- 
ance in arms, they were perfectly justified in the eye of 
reason, by the monstrous tyranny under which they groaned, 
in making that appearance. We shall soon see that they 
would have suffered with equal certainty, though they had 
never disowned their allegiance in civil matters. It is not 
surprising to hear the charge of rebellion, under which they 
died, still repeated by the High Church Tory or the Scottish 
Jacobite; it is entirely in unison with the whole professions 
and practices of the party. But when the same calumny is 
brought against our ancestors by those who profess to be 
the friends of civil and religious liberty, we are entitled to 
regard their professions with suspicion, and to view their 
policy with contempt. At the bar of Heaven the rulers of 
that period not only stood charged with apostasy from their 
solemn engagements — they were waging war with the essen- 
tial principles of justice, and undermining the liberties of 
the country. The patriot who lifts his arm prematurely to 
vindicate these liberties may perish, and involve others more 
feeble or less forward in his fall. But, as in the case before 
us, the cry which he raised ere his voice was stifled in death, 
like the alarm-shot of the faithful sentinel for which he 
the forfeit of his life, serves to awaken the slumbering gar- 
rison; and after years of ominous silence and long-suffering, 
it will find its echo in the thunder of a nation's wrath against 
the merciless tyrants. 1 

1 "They did not disown the king until they were persuaded that, by 
violating his oaths and nts, he had forfeited all claim to their 

allegiance. And if the; it was not until 

they had some reason to think him so. The Presbyterians, in general, 
had no factious design to overturn the throne, or trample r 
temptuously under their feet ; cl only to reduce its | 

within safe and reasonable limits. The allegation that the ancient U 
of our Church were republicans or democrats, needs no other refutation than 
referring to the standards of the Church, to her confessions and apologies, 
and even to the Solemn League and Covenant itself." [Crichton's Mt 
of Blackadcr, p. 319.) 

1679— 1685. 

Sketches of celebrated field-preachers — John Blachader — John Welsh — 
Archibald Riddel — Martyrdom of Mr. Hume — Richard Cameron — 
Hackston of Rathillet — The Gibbites — The Society people — Barbarities 
of the persecutors — Martyrdom of Isabel Alison and Marion I/arvie — 
True grounds of the sufferings of onr martyrs — Martyrdom of Margaret 
Wilson — Military executions — John Brcnvn of Prieslhill — Westerraw 
and Lagg — Retaliations — Enterkin Path — Patience of the sufferers — 
Death of persecutors. 

One object of these sketches being to afford the reader a 
correct idea of the most distinguished characters who ap- 
peared in the history of our Church, as well as of the scenes 
in which they acted, we may take occasion here to notice 
some of the field-preachers who rendered themselves the 
special objects of the vengeance of the government at this 
period. And Ave shall commence with those who, though 
neither indulged nor approving of the indulgence, did not 
disown the authority of government, or refuse allegiance in 
civil matters ; but who, loyal as they were, suffered for resist- 
ing the Erastian encroachments made by the civil rulers on 
the royal prerogatives of the King of Zion. 

Among these a chief place is due to Mr. John Blackader, to 
whom we have had occasion already ro refer. Bold in spirit, 
steadfast in the faith, and dauntless in the exercise of his 
office, he was one of those denominated the three first worthies, 
because he, with Mr. Welsh and Mr. Semple, was among 
the first to unfurl the banner of the covenant in the Lomonds, 
and preach the gospel in the fields of Galloway and Niths- 
dale. 1 The sufferings he underwent, and the hazards he 
encountered in the course of his eventful life, would furnish 
materials for the most interesting romance. His eloquent 
1 Blackader's Sufferings, Adv. Lib. Crichton's Memoirs, p. 314. 


and powerful discourses in the fields and fastnesses of Teviot- 
dale were blessed, not only for the refreshment of the perse- 
cuted Presbyterians, who flocked from all quarters to hear 
him, but for the conversion of many of the inhabitants of 
these neglected districts, who, living in ignorance of the gos- 
pel, had hitherto been addicted to rapine and every species 
of outrage. Possessing a cultivated and well-balanced mind, 
warm-hearted but cool-headed and sagacious, 1 he lamented 
the excesses into which some of his brethren were driven, 
and used all his efforts to prevent those divisions and irrita- 
tions which he foresaw would lead to the most disastrous 
results.' 2 This excellent man, who was allied to a family of 
rank, though disclaiming all rebellious sentiments and prac- 
tices, was at last apprehended; and because he would not 
bind himself to refrain from preaching wherever Providence 
might call him, was sent to the Bass, in the unhealthy dun- 
geon of which, after a long imprisonment, he contracted a 
disease which terminated his useful life. 

Mr. John Welsh was the son of Josias Welsh, minister of 
Temple-patrick in Ireland, who was designated " the cock of 
the north," and grandson to the celebrated John Welsh of 
Ayr. He was consequently great-grandson of the illustrious 
reformer John Knox; and he seems to have inherited from 
this line of truly noble ancestry the piety, the zeal, and the 
indomitable fortitude which distinguished them. He was 
settled in the parish of Irongray; and the reader cannot have 
forgotten the affecting scene which took place when he was 
ejected from his charge in 1662. But though compelled 
thus to leave the scene of his pastoral labours Mr. Welsh 
did not remain idle; he was constantly engaged in preaching 
at field-meetings, and frequently, notwithstanding all the 
edicts passed against him, he returned and preached, some- 
times once a week, in his old parish, and baptized all the 
children. Nothing is more remarkable than the escapes 
which this faithful and undaunted minister met with on these 
occasions. He was present at Pentland and at Bothwell 

1 "Grace formed him in the Christian hero's mould. 
Meek in his own concerns — in's Master's bold; 
Passions, to reason chained, prudence did lead; 
Zeal warm'd his breast, and reason cool'd his head." 

[Epitaph on Mr. Blackadcr's Tomb, Memoirs, p. 310.) 
2 Letter of Mr. Blackader to Mr. Mac Ward, Wodrow MSS. fol. 59. 

l6Sl.] JOHN WELSH. 339 

Bridge j and at the latter place he took an active but unsuc- 
cessful part in endeavouring to allay the animosities about 
the indulgence, and counselling the younger and more vio- 
lent leaders to adopt moderate measures. " He was," says 
Kirkton, "a godly, meek, humble man, and a good popu- 
lar preacher; but the boldest undertaker (adventurer) that 
ever I knew a minister in Christ's Church, old or late; for 
notwithstanding all the threatenings of the state, the great 
price of ^500 set upon his head, the spite of bishops, the 
diligence of all blood-hounds, he maintained his difficult task 
of preaching upon the mountains of Scotland many times to 
many thousands for near twenty years, and yet was kept 
always out of his enemies' hands. It is well known that 
bloody Claverhouse, upon intelligence that he was lurking 
in some secret place, would ride forty miles in a winter 
night; yet when he came to the place he always missed his 
prey. I have known Mr. Welsh ride three days and two 
nights without sleep, and preach upon a mountain at mid- 
night on one of the nights. He had for some time a dwell- 
ing-house near Tweedside; and sometimes, when Tweed was 
strongly frozen, he preached in the middle of the river, that 
either he might shun the offence of both nations, or that two 
kingdoms might dispute his crime." 1 After all his dangers 
he died peaceably in his bed in London, on the 9th of Jan- 
uary, 1 68 1. 

The intrepidity and self-possession of this worthy minister, 
to which, no doubt, under Providence, he owed many of his 
escapes, are illustrated by the following anecdote : On one 
occasion, being pursued with unrelenting rigour, he was 
quite at a loss where to flee, but depending on Scottish hos- 
pitality, he called at the house of a gentleman of known hos- 
tility to field-preachers in general, and to himself in particu- 
lar, though he had never seen Mr. Welsh before. He was 
kindly received. In the course of conversation Welsh was 
mentioned, and the difficulty of getting hold of him. "I 
am sent," said Welsh, " to apprehend rebels; I know where 
he is to preach to-morrow, and will give you the rebel by 
the hand." The gentleman, overjoyed at this news, agreed 
to accompany his informant next morning. When they ar- 
rived, the congregation made way for the minister and his 
1 Kirkton's History of the Church of Scotland. 


host He desired the gentleman to sit down on the chair, 
at which, to his utter astonishment, his guest of the previous 
night stood and preached. During the sermon the gentle- 
man seemed much affected; and at the close, when Mr. 
Welsh, according to promise, gave him his hand, he said, 
" You said you were sent to apprehend rebels, and I, a re- 
bellious sinner, have been apprehended this day.'' 

There is only one instance recorded in which Welsh spoke 
in a prophetic or foreboding strain; but it is one of the most 
remarkable we have met with. A profligate youth at the 
University of St. Andrews, who had come to hear Mr. Welsh 
preach, threw some missile at him in mockery, which struck 
him. Mr. Welsh paused, and before the whole multitude, 
which was very large, said, " I know not who has put this 
public affront on a servant of Jesus Christ; but be he who 
he may, I am persuaded there will be more present at his 
death than are hearing me preach this day !" It turned out 
to be a son of Sir James Stamfield of Newmilns, near Had- 
dington ; and, strange to say, some years after, this unhappy 
youth was executed for the murder of his own father. 1 

As a specimen of the manner in which peaceable Presby- 
terians who suffered at this period vindicated themselves, we 
might refer to the case of Mr. Archibald Riddel, brother to 
the laird of Riddel, who was charged, in 1680, with preach- 
ing at conventicles. Mr. Riddel denied that he had been 
preaching in the fields, but allowed that he had done so in pri- 
vate houses, while the people stood without doors. Preaching, 
even in private houses, without the consent of the incumbent 
of the parish, was now accounted high treason, as well as 
preaching in the fields. " Will you be content," said the 
lord-advocate, " to engage not to preach in the fields after 
this?" "My lord, excuse me," said Riddel, "for I dare not 
come under any such engagement." " This is strange," ob- 
served the advocate, " that Mr. Riddel, who has had so 
much respect to authority as not to preach in the fields since 
the indemnity, will not, out of the same respect, be content 
to engage to behave hereafter as he has behaved heretofore." 
" My lord-advocate, I can answer somewhat for the time 
past, but not for the time to come; I have not, since the in- 
demnity, judged myself under a necessity to preach out of a 
1 itirkton: Wodrow. 


house, but I know not but He who has called me so to 
preach, may, before I go out of the world, call me to preach 
upon tops of mountains, yea, upon the seas, and I dare not 
come under any engagements to disobey his calls." " If I 
were of Mr. Riddel's principles," said the advocate, "and did 
judge in my conscience that the laws of the land were con- 
trary to the laws of God, and that I could not conform to 
them, I would judge it my duty rather to go out of the nation 
and live elsewhere, than disturb the peace of the land by 
acting contrary to its laws." " My lord," replied Mr. Riddel, 
" if I do anything contrary to the laws, I am liable to the 
punishment due by the law." " That is not sufficient," said 
the advocate; "a subject that regards the public good of 
the land should, for the peace and welfare thereof, either 
conform to the law or go out of the land." The reply of 
Mr. Riddel to this reasoning, which has been the convenient 
logic of persecuting governments at all times, is worthy of 
notice: "My lord, I doubt that argument would militate 
against Christ and his apostles as much as against us; for 
they both preached and acted otherwise against the laws of 
the land; and not only did not judge it their duty to go out 
of the land, but the apostles, on the contrary, reasoned with 
the rulers — Whether it be better to obey God or man, judge ye." 
"Will you promise not to preach in the open fields?" cried 
the judge from the bench. " My lord, I am willing to under- 
go what sufferings your lordship will be pleased to inflict on 
me, rather than come under such an engagement." 1 

Another case of the same kind is that of Alexander Hume, 
of Hume, in 1682. This worthy gentleman, whose only 
real offence consisted in his having attended conventicles, 
was accused, without any proof, of having had intercourse 
with some of "the rebels;" and indeed it was part of the 
cruel mockery of justice then in vogue, to insert as a pre- 
amble in every indictment against the Presbyterians all the 
insurrections that had taken place, with the murder of Arch- 
bishop Sharp, though they had nothing more to do with 
these acts than the judges who sat on the bench before them 
— a practice resembling that of the bloody inquisitors of Spain, 
who clothed the victims whom they condemned to the fire 
for heresy with cloaks, on which hideous likenesses of mon- 
1 Wodrow, iii. 198, 199. 


sters and devils were painted, to inflame the bigotry and 
repress the sympathy of the spectators. It is said that a 
remission of Mr. Hume's sentence came down from London 
several days before his execution, but was kept up by the 
Earl of Perth, a bigoted Papist and persecutor; and that 
when his lady, Isobel Hume, fell on her knees before Lady 
Perth to entreat for her husband's life, urging that she had 
five small children, she was repulsed in the most insulting 
manner, and in terms which cannot be here repeated. On 
the scaffold this pious and excellent sufferer vindicated his 
character from the aspersions of those who had thirsted for 
his blood. " The world represents me as seditious and dis- 
loyal," he said; "but God is my witness, and my own con- 
science, of my innocency in this matter. I am loyal, and 
did ever judge obedience unto lawful authority my duty, and 
the duty of all Christians. I was never against the king's 
just power and greatness; but all a Christian doth must be 
of faith, for what clasheth with the command of God cannot 
be our duty; and I wish the Lord may help the king to do 
his duty to the people, and the people to do their duty to 
the king." He then added, " My conscience bears me wit- 
ness, I ever studied the good of my country. I hope I shall 
be no loser that I have gone so young a man off the stage 
of this world, seeing I am to make so blessed an exchange 
as to receive eternal life, the crown of glory. I bless his 
name he made me willing to take share with his persecuted 
people ; for I hope I shall also share with them in their 
consolations. Farewell, all earthly enjoyments: farewell, my 
dear wife and children — dear indeed unto me, though not 
so dear as Christ, for whom I now suffer the loss of all 
things; I leave them on the tender mercies of Christ. And 
now, O Father, into thy hand I commend my spirit. Lord 
Jesus, receive my soul ! " The fatal cord having been 
adjusted, he concluded by singing the last verse of the 17th 
psalm : — 

"But as for me, I thine own face 

In righteousness will see ; 
And with thy likeness, when I wake, 

I satisfied shall be." 1 

These instances sufficiently prove that there were many 

1 Wodrow, iii. 418-420. 

l68o.] RICHARD CAMERON. 343 

among the Presbyterians who suffered at this period per- 
fectly unimpeachable in their loyalty, and whose only crime, 
even in the judgment of their accusers, was that they would 
not, and could not, comply with the dictates of human 
authority when these conflicted with the divine. And they 
show the falsehood of the pretence set up by the persecutors, 
that none were condemned during this period for their 
religion, but simply for sedition and rebellion. It is certain 
that there were some who went the length of disowning 
Charles and his government, and did not scruple to do so 
in the face of their persecutors; but the examples we have 
given (and many more might have been added) are sufficient 
to prove that, even in the case of those who went this length, 
it was not simply because they refused allegiance to the 
tyrant that they were condemned to die; but that they would 
have suffered with equal certainty though they had professed 
the utmost loyalty, provided they qualified that profession 
by declaring that they could not obey him in matters of 

At the head of those who set the authority of the govern- 
ment at defiance, and disowned all allegiance to the civil 
rulers, stood Richard Cameron. He was originally of the 
Episcopal persuasion, but having been led to hear the gospel 
preached in the fields he forsook the curates, and took 
license from the outed ministers. He entered on his labours 
with all the ardour of a new convert, who, tracing his first 
serious impressions to field-preachings, could not bring him- 
self to think with patience of those who availed themselves 
of the indulgence. Finding that he could not help preach- 
ing against it, though he had come under a promise to 
refrain from it, he retired for a time to Holland, but returned 
in 1680, after the stipulated period, burning with a desire to 
disburden his conscience. His sermons were filled with 
predictions of the fall of the Stuarts, and the sufferings of 
Scotland which would precede it. But his course was brief; 
for in July of that same year Bruce of Earlshall, a violent 
persecutor, came upon him and his followers with a troop of 
dragoons, at a meeting held in a desert place called Ayrs- 
moss. On seeing the enemy approach, and no way of 
escape, the people gathered close around their minister, 
when he offered up a short prayer, repeating thrice the 


memorable words — " Lord, spare the green, and take the ripe!'''' 
He then turned to his brother Michael, saying, " Come, let 
us fight it to the last; for this is the day that I have longed 
for, and the death that I have prayed for — to die fighting 
against our Lord's avowed enemies; and this is the day we 
will get the crown." And there, accordingly, he died, fight- 
ing manfully back to back with his brother. The enemy, 
foiled in their object, which was to bring him to an igno- 
minious end, wreaked their vengeance on the inanimate 
body of the hero. They cut off his head and hands, and 
carried them to his father, who was then confined in the 
tolbooth of Edinburgh, tauntingly inquiring if he knew to 
whom they belonged. " I know, I know them," said the 
poor old man, taking them and affectionately kissing them; 
" they are my son's, my dear son's. Good is the will of the 
Lord, who cannot wrong me nor mine, but has made good- 
ness and mercy to follow us all our days." They were then 
fixed upon one of the ports of the city, the hands being 
placed closed to the head, with the fingers upwards, as if in 
the posture of prayer. " There," said one of his persecutors, 
" there's the head and hands that lived praying and preach- 
ing, and died praying and fighting." l 

In the same skirmish at which Cameron fell, David Hack- 
ston of Rathillet was taken prisoner. Having been one of 
those present, though passive, at the death of Archbishop 
Sharp, a large reward was offered for his apprehension; and 
having fallen into the hands of his enemies, they determined 
to pour upon him all the vials of their revenge. Upon his 
trial he boldly refused to own that the bishop's death was 
murder; and he was the first of those who, at the bar, 
openly declined the king's authority, as a usurper of the pre- 
rogatives of Jesus Christ. Being brought to the scaffold, 
first his right hand was struck off, and then his left; he was 
next drawn by a pulley to the top of the gallows, and suffered 
to fall with all his weight three times; while yet alive, his 
heart was torn out of his body, and then — but we refrain 
from adding more. Even at this distance of time the flesh 
creeps, and the blood runs cold at the bare recital of the 
cruelties perpetrated, under the sacred name of justice, on 
this unhappy gentleman. 

1 Biogrnph. Presbyter, i. 205; Woclro'.v, iii. 220. 


Had our space permitted, we might have spoken of Donald 
Cargill, who was executed about the same time; Alexander 
Peden, and other remarkable characters of the period. 1 Wc 
shall only observe regarding them, that as the persecution 
waxed hotter they became more distinguished for that pro- 
phetic spirit which has furnished as much ground of profane 
ridicule to their enemies, as matter of superstitious veneration 
to some of their indiscriminate admirers. Here, also, the 
middle course appears to be the safest and the most rational. 
That they were men of God cannot be questioned, for they 
were men of prayer; and that they were favoured with very 
extraordinary pre-impressions of what was to come, which 
were actually verified in many instances, cannot be denied 
without questioning facts which have been amply attested. 
But in the case of some of them, it is equally vain to deny 
that much must be ascribed to the workings of imagination, 
excited almost to frenzy by the incessant watchings, turmoils, 
and apprehensions of a life imbittered by persecution, and 
spent in lonely caves and gloomy deserts. Placed in such 
circumstances, they were exceedingly prone, if not to create 
ideal pictures of coming misery, at least to exaggerate the 
reality. If the remains of some of these worthies appear to 
us sometimes rhapsodical, and at other times even bordering 
on irreverent familiarity, we must remember that, not only 
were the younger ministers of that period deprived by perse- 
cution of the advantages of a liberal education, or at least of 
leisure for study, but that, to appreciate their eloquence, we 
must have been born in the same century, and stationed on 
the same spot, and environed with the same perils as their 
hearers ; and we ought not to criticize with the nicety of mod- 
ern taste, productions which, homely enough as they came 
from the lips of the speaker, must have become still more 
so after passing from mouth to mouth in the traditions of a 
devout but unlettered peasantry. 2 

1 Pedcn's character has been much exaggerated by friends as well as 
foes. Though enthusiastic, it does not appear that he was chargeable with 
one-half of the stories which have been told of him. Wodrow denies, on 
the best authority, the genuineness of the strange book, entitled Peden' s 
Prophecies. (Vol. iv. 397.) It is certain, however, that many of his prog- 
nostications were remarkably verified. The most striking of them was his 
announcement of the death of Charles II. ( Walker's Diograph. Presbyter. 
i- 57-) 

2 We refer particularly to the Lives of Patrick Walker, now collected in 


It would be equally unjust and ungenerous, however, to 
confound the high-toned and regulated enthusiasm of such 
men with the wild dreams and frantic extravagances of fan- 
aticism. About the close of the persecution, a small sect 
arose, named the Gibbites or Sweet Singers, whose opinions 
and practices were highly extravagant and even impious. 
They derived that name from John Gibb, a sailor in Borrows- 
tounness, who seems to have been labouring under insanity, 
but who prevailed on about thirty persons, chiefly women, to 
adopt his ridiculous notions. They denounced all besides 
themselves as backsliders, protested against all kinds of toll, 
custom, and tribute, and not only abstained from the use 
of ale, tobacco, and other excisable articles, but, that they 
might be placed beyond the reach of all such temptations, 
undertook a pilgrimage to the Pentland Hills, where they 
remained for some days, with a resolution to sit till they saw 
the smoke of the desolation of Edinburgh, which their mad 
leader had predicted. Like all other fanatics, they soon 
began to renounce the authority of Scripture, and some of 
them actually burned their Bibles. Against this sect none 
opposed themselves more zealously than Cargill and his 
followers, who regarded the ravings of Gibb as an impious 
caricature of their principles. The Duke of York and our 
Scottish rulers heard of them with undisguised satisfaction, 
as opportunely furnishing a pretext for exciting odium against 
the Covenanters. The Gibbites, as well as the Quakers, 
were gently dealt with, connived at, and even encouraged, 
while the faithful witnesses, with whom they were identified, 
were persecuted without remorse. 1 

The truth of history, however, requires that we should state 
here some of the steps taken by that party of the Presbyter- 
ians usually called Society People or Cameronians. One 
Henry Hall of Haughhead, in Teviotdale, a gentleman who 
was intimate with Mr. Cargill, and had suffered great perse- 
cution, was apprehended at Queensferry with a paper in his 
possession disowning the government, and containing some 
very strong and exceptionable sentiments. This paper, it 

the Biographia Prcsbyteriana, and similar works, of which the enemies of 
Presbyterians have taken so much advantage. 

1 Wodrow, iii. 548, &c. ; Life of 1). Cargill, in Walker's Biograph. Pres- 
byter, ii. 16-21. 


appears, was merely a scroll drawn up by Hall and Cargill, 
and more like a manifesto for a general rising of the people, 
than fitted for a suffering and subdued handful. It was never 
sanctioned by any meeting; but having fallen into the hands 
of the governors, it was held as indicating the sentiments and 
designs of all the Presbyterians. The Quccnsferry Paper, as 
it was called, was thenceforth quoted and used against all 
suspected of Presbyterianism. Shortly after this Cameron 
and Cargill, with some others, having broken off from the 
rest of the Presbyterian ministers, published a declaration at 
Sanquhar, differing a little from, but in the same strain with, 
the Queensferry Paper. The Sanquhar Declaration openly 
declared war against Charles as a tyrant and usurper. This 
was followed up by one of the most singular scenes, perhaps, 
recorded in the history of the times — the Torwood excommuni- 
cation. In a meeting held at Torwood, in Stirlingshire, in 
September, 1 680, Mr. Cargill, after divine service, pronounced, 
with all solemnity and formality, the highest sentence of ex- 
communication against King Charles, the Duke of York, the 
Dukes of Monmouth, Lauderdale, and Rothes, General Dal- 
ziel, and the advocate, Sir George Mackenzie; in the name 
of the Lord Jesus Christ casting them out of the church, and 
delivering them up unto Satan. 1 

These proceedings, we may well believe, irritated the 
ruling powers more than ever; and though unshared in and 
unapproved of by the rest of the Presbyterian ministers, they 
were eagerly laid hold of as pretexts for still greater severi- 
ties against the whole of them. The furnace was " heated 
one seven times more than it was wont to be heated." Into 
the history of the persecutions which followed we cannot 
minutely enter. It would, indeed, be a task as superfluous 
as disagreeable; for the subsequent period, down to 1688, 
exhibits little more than a series of executions, civil and mili- 
tary, differing from each other only in their degrees of horror 
and atrocity. Conceiving that they had now at length ob- 
tained what Bishop Burnet declares they had long thirsted 
for — a feasible pretence for laying the whole country under 

1 Torwood Excommunication: being the Lecture and Discourse going 
before, and the Afternoon Sermon following after ; with the Action of 
Excommunication itself, pronounced at Torwood, Sept. 1680. By that 
Faithful Minister and Martyr of Jesus Christ, Mr. Donald Cargill. 1741. 


martial law, and fattening on the spoils of a population 
driven to despair by their oppressions — burning with rage, 
under a guilty consciousness that the charges brought against 
them by the Society People were perfectly true — and what is 
equally certain, smarting under the very excommunication 
which they pretended to despise — they " cried Havoc ! and 
let slip the dogs of war." Statutes and proclamations fiercer 
than ever were levelled at the heads of ministers who 
preached, and all who attended, at conventicles — letters of 
i)itcrcommuiii)ig were passed against many of the most ob- 
noxious, by which all were prohibited, under pain of death, 
from having any intercourse with the proscribed individuals 
— all suspected of these practices were dragged to the cir- 
cuit courts and strictly questioned — the prisoners were tried 
super inquirendis, that is, on the evidence extorted from 
their own lips by insidious questions, or the application of 
the torture by the boots, by the thumbkins, or by lighted 
matches tied between the fingers until they burned the flesh 
to the bone; and upon the evidence thus procured, without 
a single witness to bring home the crime, many were con- 
demned. No rank, no sex, no age, was exempted from these 
inquisitorial proceedings. The father was compelled by tor- 
ture to bear evidence against the son, the son against the 
father, the wife against the husband, the husband against the 
wife; and, loyal as they might be themselves, if found guilty 
of sheltering, or even of speaking with an intercommuned 
fugitive, even though the dearest relative, without informing 
against him, they were held guilty of his crime, and liable to 
suffer death. 

The cruelties of this period, it has been justly and not too 
strongly remarked, "were savage, worthy of cannibals; they 
were refined, worthy of fiends." 1 By degrees the whole 
frame of government seemed converted into one vast court 
of inquisition, in which the Episcopal clergy of all ranks 
held a conspicuous place as informers, witnesses, or judges. 
The infliction of death seemed to be regarded by these in- 
quisitors as too easy a punishment; the poor victims were 
insulted in the court, and even struck when awaiting their 
doom on the scaffold. "When James Robertson (who was 
executed with two others in 16S2) offered to speak upon the 
1 Lorimer's Ili^t. of Prot. Church of France, p. 324. 


scaffold, he was interrupted by the ruffling of drums; and 
when complaining of this, Johnston, the town-major, beat 
him with his cane at the foot of the ladder in a most barbar- 
ous manner." 1 Even mere children did not escape from 
the malignity of the persecutors. " A party of the enemy," 
says one who himself shared in the sufferings he describes, 
" came to search for some of the persecuted party. When 
the people of the house saw the enemy coming, they fled 
out of the way; but the cruel enemy got my dear brother 
into their hands. They examined him concerning the per- 
secuted people where they haunted; but he would not open 
his mouth to speak one word to them. They flattered him, 
they offered him money to tell where the Whigs were, but 
he would not speak; they held the point of a drawn sword 
to his naked breast; they fired a pistol over his head; they 
set him on horseback behind one of themselves to be taken 
away and hanged; they tied a cloth on his face, and set 
him on his knees to be shot to death; they beat him with 
their swords and with their fists; they kicked him several 
times to the ground with their feet; yet, after they had used 
all the cruelty they could, he would not open his mouth to 
speak one word to them; and although he was a comely 
proper child, going in ten years of age, yet they called him 
a vile, ugly, dumb devil, and beat him very sore, and then 
went on their way, leaving him lying on the ground, sore 
bleeding in the open fields." 2 

Nothing, however, presents the government in a more 
odious and despicable light than their treatment of the 
tender sex. The cruel usage of "comely proper children 
going in ten years of age" may be ascribed to the indis- 
criminate fury of a ruthless and unreflecting soldiery; but 
when we see simple unlettered females dragged from the 
duties of the kitchen or the farmyard, to answer for their 
religious belief before learned chancellors and mitred digni- 
taries, and sent to expiate their errors on the scaffold, we 
cannot reflect on the conduct of their persecutors without 
feelings of mingled indignation and contempt. The trial 
and execution of Isabel Alison, a young unmarried woman 

1 Wodrow, iii. 415. 

2 Memoirs of the First Years of James Nisbet, Son of John Nisbet of 
Hardhill, written by himself, p. 70. 


in Perth, and another young female, Marion Harvie, may, 
as Wodrow has remarked, be well regarded as "a naming 
proof of die iniquity of the period." Isabel had occasion- 
ally heard Mr. Cargill and others preach in the fields; and 
having in her simplicity acknowledged that she held con- 
verse with some who had been declared rebels, a party of 
soldiers was forthwith sent to carry her to Edinburgh. When 
brought before the council the most ensnaring questions were 
put to her, and she was induced by threats and promises to 
acknowledge that she had conversed with Rathillet, Balfour, 
and other characters obnoxious to the government, to express 
her approbation of the Sanquhar Declaration, and disown 
the authority of her judges. Marion Harvie, it would ap- 
pear, was still more humble in station than her companion. 
She w r as a servant girl, only about twenty years of age, and 
belonging to Borrowstounness. They had nothing to lay to 
her charge but what she owned, namely, her being present 
at field-conventicles. When interrogated as to the Sanquhar 
Declaration and other papers, she declared she knew nothing 
about them. Some of the councillors told her that " a rock, 
a cod, and bobbins would set her better than these debates.'' 
"And yet," says Wodrow, "they cast them up to her, and 
murder her upon them." After being examined before the 
council, these two poor women were brought before the 
criminal court. "This was the constant practice at this 
time, the one day to bring such as fell into their hands be- 
fore the council, and there engage them by captious ques- 
tions into a confession of statutory crime, and next day to 
panel them before the justiciary, where, if they were silent, 
they were asked if they would quit the testimony they had 
given yesterday." The answers given by these females to 
the interrogatories of their judges, which are recorded by 
themselves with great simplicity, manifest much good sense 
and quickness, with a mixture of those mistaken views as to 
the civil government into which it was very natural for such 
persons to fall. Both of the women were condemned to be 
hanged in the Grassmarket, and the bloody sentence was 
executed on the 26th of January, 1681. Just when they 
were going out to the place of execution, Bishop Paterson, 
whose character, if we may believe the uniform testimony of 
the time, was stained with vices of the lowest description, 


had the insolence to come into the prison and interrupt 
their devotions. " Marion," he began, " you said you would 
never hear a curate; now you shall be forced to hear one 
before you die;" upon which he ordered one of his curates 
to pray. As soon as he began, she said to her fellow-pris- 
oner, " Come, Isabel, let us sing the 23d Psalm." They 
did so, and drowned the voice of the curate. But this was 
not the only circumstance calculated to disturb and annoy 
these humble sufferers in their dying hour. They were exe- 
cuted in company with five profligate women who had been 
found guilty of murdering their own children, and railed on 
by one of the Episcopal functionaries, who assured them 
"they were on the road to damnation; while, without any 
evidence of their penitence, he was sending the other wicked 
wretches straight to heaven. However," it is added, " they 
were not commoved, but sang some suitable psalms on the 
scaffold, and prayed; and thus died with much composure 
and joy." Marion was remarkably supported. " Behold," 
she cried, " I hear my Beloved saying unto me, 'Arise, my 
love, my fair one, and come away.' I am not come here 
for murder ! I am about twenty years of age. At fourteen 
or fifteen I was a hearer of the curates and indulged, and 
then I was a blasphemer and a Sabbath-breaker, and a chap- 
ter of the Bible was a burden to me; but since I heard this 
persecuted gospel, I durst not blaspheme, nor break the 
Sabbath, and the Bible became my delight." Upon this the 
major called to the executioner to cast her over, and "the 
murderer presently choked her." 1 

If we are asked, What were the grounds of all this suffer- 
ing? we w r ould reply in general, that the main cause in which 
our martyrs suffered and died, was that of the covenanted 
Reformation. In other words, they died for approving of 
the various steps of reformation which the Church and nation 
of Scotland had been led to take during both the first and 
second reforming periods, and particularly between the years 

1 Cloud of Witnesses, Scots Worthies, ii. 299-317; Wod. iii. 275, 276. 
Fountainhall's Histor. Observes, pp. 26, 27. This last writer observes, 
very coolly, "Some thought the threatening to drown them privately in the 
North Loch, without giving them the credit of a public suffering, would 
have more effectually reclaimed them nor (than) any arguments which 
were used." How true is it that "the tender mercies of the wicked are 

352 liir. story of the Scottish church. [i68i. 

1638 and 1650; they died for their adherence not only to 
the Protestant religion, but to Presbyterianism in opposition 
to Prelacy and Independency; they died for their adherence 
to the Confession of Faith, and the other Westminster stan- 
dards, as the standards of that uniformity agreed upon and 
sworn to by Scotland, England, and Ireland; they died for 
maintaining the continued obligation of the national cove- 
nant and the solemn league, and for condemning the sad 
defections from these attainments, and the glaring violations 
of these engagements with which all ranks and classes were 
chargeable. These were the main and real grounds on 
which they endured so much, in the forms of torture, banish- 
ment, imprisonment, and death. It is plain that had they 
not held these principles, or had they been less faithful in 
maintaining them, they would never have writhed under the 
rack, nor dyed the scaffolds and the fields with their blood. 
Of all the martyrs during the period of the persecution, from 
the first to the last — from the coroneted head of Argyll 
down to the courageous and devoted Renwick — from " the 
lyart veteran " down to the mere child who was hardly 
capable of understanding the points of quarrel, though he 
could deeply feel the injustice of his persecutors — not one 
suffered without owning this cause. Here there was no 
wavering, no faltering, no symptom of disunion or disagree- 
ment among the band of sufferers. With one mind and 
one mouth they bore their testimony to the same work, and 
gloried in sealing it with their blood. 

It generally happens, however, that the testimony of the 
Church is made to bear upon some single point, essentially 
involving the whole cause of truth, and testing the fidelity of 
its followers. And at this period that point was the royal 
prerogatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the only King and 
Head of his Church. It should never be forgotten that the 
overthrow of the Reformation at the period of the restora- 
tion of Charles, with the scenes of bloody persecution which 
followed, are to be traced to the act of supremacy by which 
the king was declared supreme in all matters and causes, 
ecclesiastical as well as civil. Against this gross Erastian 
usurpation the Presbyterians protested from the beginning; 
and as the whole series of persecuting measures afterwards 
adopted by the government proceeded on this impious as- 


sumption of the powers of Christ, it is easy to see how the 
whole contendings of the faithful party in the land were re- 
duced to the point of asserting His sole headship over his 
Church. This became with them "the word of Christ's 
patience;" and nobly did they "keep it in the hour of 
temptation." They justly deemed it worthy of all the suffer- 
ings they could endure; and they shrank from uttering the 
slightest word which might compromise the truth, or indi- 
cate the least relaxation of their testimony in its behalf. 

Seldom have the rulers of this world been brought to 
acknowledge cordially, thoroughly, and practically, that the 
Church has a Head in heaven, to whom she is bound to pay 
implicit and undivided homage. And too often has the recog- 
nition of this principle, which is so honourable to Christ, 
and which forms the highest element in every well-constituted 
establishment of Christianity, been clogged with limitations, 
enabling the civil powers, when so disposed, to assume the 
spiritual prerogative, and assail the independence of the 
Church. It is equally true, however, that this has seldom, 
if ever, been attempted avowedly in opposition to the sacred 
rights of the Redeemer. Those who suffer for resisting the 
encroachment are uniformly represented as rebels, and 
charged with factious opposition to the will of the monarch, 
or the law of the land. 

None were more sensible of the real cause for which the 
Covenanters suffered, or felt more bitterly conscious of its 
importance, than those who were most active in conducting 
the persecution. But with the meanness and malignity 
which are the invariable characteristics of the persecutor, 
they attempted, by various stratagems, to shift the odium 
from themselves to their victims, and represent them as 
suffering for any other cause than the true one. Among 
these stratagems were the "ensnaring questions" which they 
put to the prisoners, such as, " Was the rising at Both well 
rebellion, or not?" "Will you pray for the king?" By 
these questions, which they well knew many of them would 
not answer, or would answer in such a way as to betray their 
condemnation of the government, they attempted, in the ab- 
sence of all evidence, to fix upon them the stigma of rebellion; 
while, in reality, their offence consisted in refusing to hear the 
curates, or having attended field-meetings. It was not un- 



common to offer the poor people their lives, provided they 
would simply say, God save the king. Many refused to do 
this; and when we consider the construction put upon the 
phrase by their persecutors, we need not wonder at it; for by 
uttering the salutation, they meant them to acknowledge not 
only the civil authority, but the ecclesiastical supremacy of 
the king. When the prisoner at the bar asked the meaning in 
which they put the words, he was told they meant owning his 
person and government, and approving all his titles as head 
of the Church and state. Sir George Mackenzie has had the 
hypocrisy to assert that none suffered during this reign who 
would say, God save the king} This is most certainly a false- 
hood, for many suffered who were quite ready to say it. But 
when we consider, not only that the poor people who refused 
to do so looked upon it as a virtual renunciation of all their 
principles, but that their persecutors regarded it in the same 
light, it is hardly possible to conceive a piece of more shock- 
ing and ingenious cruelty. This test, though really intended 
to elicit a renunciation of their religious profession, was, at the 
same time, so plausibly worded as to make the refusal of it 
appear little better than mere obstinacy, and to represent 
those who refused it as a set of fools, dying under a frantic 
delusion, fitted to excite derision rather than pity. But it 
was like the grain of incense which the early Christians were 
required, by their persecutors, to let fall on the altars of the 
Pagan deities — the slightest token, indeed, but still a token 
quite intelligible and well understood, of their renouncing 
the Christian faith. The following case will show how far 
these innocent sufferers were from being unwilling to use 
the terms prescribed, provided they were not understood in 
a sense completely eversive of their principles — or, in other 
words, meant to involve them in perjury. 

Gilbert Wilson was a farmer in good circumstances in 
Wigtonshire. He and his wife were both conformists to 
Prelacy; but their children having imbibed better principles, 
refused to hear the Episcopal incumbent. For this reason, 
though yet scarcely of the age to make them obnoxious to 
the law, they were pursued, and driven to bogs, hills, and 
caves for shelter. At last Gilbert's two daughters, Margaret 
and Agnes, the one eighteen years old, the other a mere 

1 Vindication of the Government during the Reign of Charles II. 


child about thirteen, were apprehended, and both of them, 
by their merciless judges, were condemned to death. V>y 
going up to Edinburgh and paying a large sum of money 
the father succeeded in purchasing the life of Agnes, his 
youngest daughter; but Margaret, along with an old woman 
of sixty-three, was adjudged to suffer death, by being bound 
to stakes planted in the sea within flood-mark, near Wigton. 
Margaret's relations used all means to prevail upon her to 
take the oath, and promise to hear the curate ; but she stood 
fast in her integrity, and was not to be shaken. She and 
her aged companion were tied to the stakes, in the presence 
of an immense crowd, and surrounded with soldiers. The 
old woman's stake being a good way beyond the other, she 
was the first that suffered; and while she was struggling in 
the water some one asked Margaret what she thought of her 
friend now. " What do I see," she replied, " but Christ in 
one of his members wrestling there? Think you that we are 
the sufferers? No; it is Christ in us, for he sends none a 
warfare upon their own charges." The water covered her 
while she was engaged in prayer; but before life was gone, 
they pulled her up till she recovered the power of speech, 
when she was asked by Major Windram, who commanded, 
if she would pray for the king. She replied, that " she 
wished the salvation of all men, and the damnation of none." 
" Dear Margaret," said one of the by-standers, deeply af- 
fected, " say God save the king. 11 She answered with great 
steadiness, " God save him, if he will, for it is his salvation 
I desire." " Sir," they cried to the major, " she has said it; 
she has said it!" The major, approaching her on hearing 
this, offered her the abjuration oath, charging her instantly 
to swear it, otherwise to return to the water. The poor 
young woman, thus cruelly deluded with the hope of life, 
firmly replied, "I will not; I am one of Christ's children! 
let me go." Upon which she was again thrust into the 
water, and drowned. 1 Thus died these two women, simply 
because they would not take the abjuration oath, which 
bound the swearers never to take up arms against the king 
on any pretext whatsoever, and called on them to " abhor, 
renounce, and disown" all who had done so. What pos- 
sible danger the government could apprehend from old 
1 Wodrow, Cloud of Witnesses, &c. 


women of sixty-three, and girls of eighteen, taking up arms 
against the king, it is hard to say. Every feeling of humanity 
rises up to exeerate an administration which could have 
recourse to such gratuitous and unmanly cruelties in support 
of its authority. 

These, however, bad as they were, were the most decent 
of the proceedings of this period — they were conducted with 
at least the forms and the semblance of justice. The year 
1684 introduced a practice more barbarous and revolting, 
when the common soldiers were empowered, without indict- 
ment or process, to put to death any suspicious persons 
they might meet with, upon their refusing to take the oaths, 
or answer the questions they put, to their satisfaction. To 
enumerate the cruelties and murders exercised under this 
barbarous law would be a vain attempt. The case of John 
Brown, the carrier, whom Claverhouse shot before his own 
door, and in the presence of his wife, is too well known to 
be more than adverted to. " Go to your prayers immedi- 
ately," cried Claverhouse, ''for you must die." Poor Brown 
prayed, then kissed his wife and children; " God bless you 
all," he said — " may all purchased and promised blessings 
be multiplied." " No more," vociferated Claverhouse: "You 
six there," counting six soldiers, " shoot him instantly." 
The men, hardened as they w r ere, had been so much affected 
by Brown's prayer, that they hesitated to obey the order; 
upon which Claverhouse, drawing his pistol, shot him dead 
with his own hand. " What thinkest thou of thy husband 
now, woman?" fiercely demanded the ruffian. "I ever 
thought much good of him," sobbed the poor widow; "and 
now more than ever." "Wretch!" said Claverhouse, "it 
were but just to lay thee beside him." " If you were per- 
mitted, I doubt not but your cruelty would go that far," cried 
the poor woman; "but how will you answer for this morn- 
ing's work? " 

" To man I can be answerable," said the remorseless 
Claverhouse, " and as for God, I will take him into my own 
hand ! " 

He then marched away, leaving the poor widow with hei 
husband's mangled corpse! She set the children on the 
ground ; she gathered up the scattered brains, and covering 
his body with her plaid, she sat down and wept over him. 

16S4-85.] THE KILLING TIME. 357 

The Duke of York had declared " there would never be 
peace in Scotland till the whole of the country south of the 
Forth was turned into a hunting-field." And in the years 
1684 and 1685, there was every appearance that his threat 
ening would be realized. During this, the hottest period of 
the persecution, and emphatically termed by the people the 
killing time, the lives of the lieges were left at the mercy of 
military executioners, who scoured the country, hunting in 
all directions in search of fugitive Presbyterians. Blood- 
hounds were employed to discover the retreats of " the wan- 
derers," as they were called, who, on being found, were 
immediately brought out and shot, without any proof, pro- 
cess, or inquiry. The slightest pretext was sufficient. If 
the person whom they met could not produce a pass — if he 
made the least scruple to swallow the oath — or if, after 
doing so, the soldiers should still suspect him, he was 
instantly deprived of life. If a countryman was seen running 
across the road, or walking more hastily than usual through 
a field, he was shot at as a suspected person. 

A specimen or two of these doings may suffice. 1 A lieu- 
tenant and three soldiers passing along the road found a 
poor man sleeping on a bank, with a small pocket Bible 
lying near him. This circumstance having roused their 
suspicions, they awoke the man, and asked him if he would 
pray for the king? He replied that he would with all his 
heart. The lieutenant was about to let him go, when one 
of the soldiers said — " But, sir, will you renounce the cove- 
nant?" The man hesitated a moment; but on the question 
being repeated, he firmly replied : "Indeed, sir, I'll as soon 
renounce my baptism." Upon this, without further cere- 
mony, they shot the poor man on the spot. On another 
occasion some soldiers perceived a countryman lying in a 
field engaged in reading. They called to him, but the man 
being deaf, and not making any reply, they fired at him, on 
which he started to his feet. Again they cried to him, and 
before he could recover from his amazement a second shot 
laid him dead on the field. Five of the wanderers had 
taken refuge in a cave near Ingliston, in the parish of Glen- 

1 The instances here adduced are selected chiefly from Wodrow, who was 
at great pains to ascertain, by written attestations, the truth of the informa- 
tion he collected. The first is taken from Defoe's Memoirs. 


cairn. Their place of concealment was discovered to the 
enemy by a base "intelligencer," who had formerly associ- 
ated with them, pretending to be one of the sufferers. When 
the soldiers came up they first fired into the cave, and then 
rushing in, brought them forth to execution. Without ques- 
tion put, or offer of mercy, the whole five were immediately 
shot, by orders of the commanding officer. One of them 
being observed to be still alive, a wretch drew his sword and 
thrust him through the body. The dying man raised him- 
self, and, weltering in his own blood and that of his com- 
panions, cried out, with his last breath — " Though every hair 
of my head were a man, I would die all those deaths for 
Christ and his cause !" 

In the bloody proceedings of this period the names of 
Johnston of Westerraw, and Grierson of Lagg, vie with that 
of Claverhouse in infamous notoriety. Westerraw was an 
apostate from Presbyterianism, and, like all apostates, more 
bitter and unrelenting in his hatred to his former brethren 
than the worst of their old oppressors. Claverhouse having 
apprehended a young man named Andrew Hislop, whose 
only crime was, that one of the wanderers had permission to 
die in his mother's house, brought him to Westerraw, on whose 
property the alleged crime was committed, and who, to sig- 
nalize his loyalty, instantly passed sentence of death on him. 
Claverhouse, who seems to have had some relentings from 
reflecting on the murder of Brown, urged delay; but Wester- 
raw insisting, he yielded, saying, " The blood of this poor 
man be upon you, Westerraw; I am free of it." He then 
ordered the captain of a Highland company who were tra- 
velling with him, to execute the sentence. This the gentle- 
man peremptorily refused, and drawing off his men to some 
distance, swore he would fight Claverhouse and his dragoons 
rather than comply. Claverhouse then ordered three of his 
own men to do it. When they were ready to fire, they 
desired Andrew to draw down his cap over his eyes. "No!" 
said the undaunted youth, " I can look my death-bringers in 
the face without fear, and I have nothing whereof I am 
ashamed;" and holding up his Bible, and charging them to 
answer for what they were to do at the great day, when they 
would be judged by that book, he received the murderous 
fire without shrinking. 


Grierson of Lagg was, if possible, a still more revolting- 
character. The cruelties which others inflicted merely under 
the impulse of passion and malice, seem to have afforded 
this monster absolute delight. He would jeer at the victims 
whom he butchered in cold blood, and exult over their 
agonies with a kind of fiendish glee. When they requested 
a few moments to prepare for death, "What!" he would 
exclaim, with oaths and imprecations, " have you not had 
time enough to prepare since Bothwell?" Having been 
challenged by one of his companions for cruelty to one 
whom he knew to be a gentleman, and particularly for not 
allowing his dead body to be buried, Lagg answered with an 
oath, " Take him if you will, and salt him in your beef-bar- 
rel!" It was quite customary with this hero and his com- 
panions, in their drunken orgies, to personate devils, and 
lash one another with whips, in jesting imitation of hell! 

"Wonderful," says Wodrow, "were the preservations of 
the persecuted about this time. The soldiers frequently got 
their clothes and cloaks, and yet missed themselves. They 
would have gone by the mouths of the caves and dens in 
which they were lurking, and the dogs would snook and 
smell about the stones under which they were hid, and yet 
they remained undiscovered." But the reader may be more 
inclined to wonder at the patience of these sufferers, and at 
the fact that, notwithstanding the extraordinary provocation 
they received, there is not one well-authenticated instance 
of their having taken revenge on their persecutors. 1 The 
only instance in which they even attempted, after the defeat 
at Bothwell, to oppose force to force, took place at Enterkin 
Path, where a small body of countrymen succeeded in res- 
cuing some prisoners from a detachment of dragoons. En- 
terkin Path is a steep and dangerous ascent on a mountain 
of that name in Dumfriesshire, with a tremendous precipice 
beneath. Along this path the dragoons were conveying to 
Edinburgh nine prisoners, bound together in couples upon 
horses, when their progress was arrested by a voice from the 
hill above. " It was misty," says Defoe, in his account of 

1 Two soldiers found killed at Swine Abbey, and a curate, named Peirson, 
who lost his life in a scuffle, arc the only cases resembling retaliation which 
were adduced against the Covenanters at this time, and in neither of these 
could it be shown that the sufferers had any share. 


this affair, "as indeed it is seldom otherwise on the height 
of that mountain, so that nobody was seen at first; but the 
commanding officer, hearing somebody call, halted, and cried 
aloud, 'What do you want, and who are ye?' He had no 
sooner spoken, than twelve men came in sight upon the side 
of the hill above them. One of the twelve answered by 
giving the word of command to his men, ' Make read)- !' and 
then calling to the officer, said, ' Sir, will you deliver up our 
minister?' The officer answered with an oath, ' No, sir.' 
At which the leader of the countrymen fired immediately, 
and aimed so true that he shot him through the head, and 
immediately he fell from his horse; the horse, fluttering a 
little with the fall of the rider, fell over the precipice, rolling 
to the bottom, and was dashed to pieces. The rest of the 
twelve men were stooping to give fire upon the body, when 
the next commanding officer called to them to hold their 
hands, and desired a truce. It was apparent that the whole 
body was in a dreadful consternation; not a man of them 
durst stir, or offer to fire a shot! 'Go, sir,' said he to the 

minister, ' you owe your life to this d mountain.' 

' Rather, sir,' said the minister, ' to the God that made this 
mountain.' When the minister was come to them, their 
leader called again to the officer, ' Sir, we want yet the other 
prisoners.' They were also delivered. 'Well, sir, but,' says 
the officer, ' I expect you will call off those fellows you have 
posted at the head of the way.' ' They belong not to us,' 
says the honest man; 'they are unarmed people, waiting till 
you pass by.' ' Say you so?' said the officer; ' had I known 
that, you had not gotten your men so cheap.' Says the 
countryman, 'An ye are for battle; we'll quit the truce, if 
you like.' 'No,' says the officer, ' I think ye be brave fel- 
lows; e'en gang your gate.' wl 

Such is the only instance in which the severities of this 
time can be said to have roused these persecuted people to 
forcible resistance. "The Society People," indeed, who were 
now the special objects of the vengeance of government, being 
the only class who still persisted in holding field-conventicles, 

1 Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, part iii. pp. 189-195. Defoe had 
either heard another version of this story, or improved on what he heard. 
Wodrow states that the soldiers fired first on the countrymen. (Vol. iv. p. 
1 37-) 


published, in October, 1684, " A declaration anent intelli- 
gencers and informers," in which they not only declared war 
against Charles, but solemnly warned all who chose, "either 
with bloody Doeg to shed their blood, or with the nattering 
Ziphites to inform persecutors where they were to be found," 
that they would not let them pass unpunished. " Call to your 
remembrance," they said, " all that is in peril is not lost, and 
all that is delayed is not forgiven /" While we must disapprove 
of this step, as unwarranted by Scripture, and affording too 
much countenance to the dangerous principle of the infliction 
of justice by private individuals, we cannot blame its authors 
with much severity, when we reflect that they were deprived 
of the protection of law, and hunted like wild beasts in the 
caverns and on the mountains to which they fled for shelter. 
The threat was never carried into execution ; and yet it gained 
its object, by intimidating for a while the spies and traitors 
who made a traffic of their blood. It was the cry of the 
oppressed, wrung from them by extremity — the instinctive 
raising of the hand to protect the head — the language of 
human passion, wound up to the desperate calmness of 
defiance, which imparts dignity to the sufferer, while it makes 
the persecutor pause and tremble. 

Yet it would be wrong to suppose that this was a general 
feeling among the persecuted. On the contrary, never per- 
haps was the gentle, forgiving, and long-suffering spirit of the 
gospel more strikingly illustrated than in the sufferings of this 
period. "They took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, 
knowing that they had in heaven a better and an enduring 
substance." On the scaffold they forgave their enemies, and 
prayed for their executioners. Some of them carried submis- 
sion even to an excess ; and nothing conveys a more affecting 
idea of the " great fight of afflictions" they endured, than the 
simple fact, attested by Wodrow, that many of them, seeing 
their friends cut down around them in such numbers, and 
their own lives in such constant jeopardy, were seized by a 
tedium vitce — a weariness of life — which made them careless 
of danger, and induced them even to court the crown of 
martyrdom. The brutal judges, aware of this, instead of 
sending them directly from the bar to the gibbet, would remit 
them to jail, scoffingly informing them that they would not 
be admitted to the joys of martyrdom so soon as they 


expected ! On one occasion a poor half-witted countryman, 
being present at an execution, was so much horrified that lie 
could not forbear railing aloud against the hangman, calling 
him " a murdering dog." He was immediately seized by the 
soldiers, and some time after brought before the council. 
Being interrogated if he had been at Bothweli Bridge, he 
replied, "Ay, that I was!" " Had you a sword about you?" 
"Ay," said he, "and pistols too." A child, it is said, might 
have beaten this champion, and taken all from him. Some 
of the more humane of the councillors, perceiving his weak- 
ness, proposed to " send him away, and not trouble themselves 
with such a mad fellow;" but others proceeding to pose him 
with questions about the king's authority, which he denied 
point blank, the poor creature was condemned and executed. 1 
But though these persecutors escaped the human venge- 
ance which they provoked — though not one of them was 
called to account, or suffered death, or even any personal 
hardship worth mentioning, at the Revolution, it was remarked 
that few of them escaped the judgments of Heaven. Of 
those who took the most active share in these bloody perse- 
cutions, very few came to an ordinary or peaceful death. 
The Duke of Rothes was seized with such remorse on his 
death-bed, that, as we remarked before, he was fain to send 
for some of the persecuted ministers to comfort him. They 
came, but the wretched man was beyond the reach of conso- 
lation; their prayers were drowned in the groans he uttered 
under the horrors of a guilty conscience. His friends, 
shocked at the scene, were compelled to leave him; and the 
Duke of Hamilton, on taking his departure, said, in tears, 
" We banish these men from us, and yet, when dying, we 
call for them; this is melancholy work!" Cruel and bloody 
as were the deaths of our martyred fathers, they were enviable 
compared with those of their murderers. Over the grave of 
the martyr we bend with a pleasing melancholy; for there 
was "hope in his death." From the deat^-bed of the per- 
secutor we recoil, hopeless and horrified, and instinctively 
breathing the prayer, " Gather not my soul with sinners, nor 
my life with bloody men ! " 

1 Vindication of the Presbyterians in Scotland from the malicious asper- 
sions cast on them in a late pamphlet by Sir G. Mackenzie, p. 24. 


1685 — 1688. 

The Test—Trial of the Earl of Argyll— Sir Hugh Campbell— Mr. 
William Car stairs — Bail lie ofjerviswood — Hume of Polwart — Execu- 
tion of Argyll — Prisoners in Dunottar Castle — James' indulgence — 
Execution of Renwick — Character of Scottish Prelacy — Alarm of the 
country — The Revolution. 

To understand the following part of our history, we must 
revert for a little to the famous test, enacted in August, 1681. 
This engagement, which was in the form of a long complex 
oath, bound the swearer to acknowledge the supremacy of 
the king in all causes, ecclesiastical as well as civil — to 
renounce the covenants — to condemn all Assemblies as il- 
legal which were held without the royal sanction, and on no 
pretext to attempt the alteration of the government in church 
or state. At the same time, with glaring inconsistency, it 
included a profession of the true Protestant religion contained 
in the old Scots Confession of 1567 — a clause introduced, it 
is said, much against the will of the Duke of York, whose 
main design in imposing the oath was to extirpate Presbyter- 
ianism, and thus prepare the way for Popery. He knew very 
well that no honest Presbyterian would submit to such an 
oath, and he took care, in the act enjoining it, to exempt him- 
self and the Papists from the necessity of swearing it. 

Nothing gives a darker picture of the time than the history 
of this self-contradictory test. Though at first proposed only 
for persons in public trust, it was soon converted into a 
general test of loyalty, and imposed on all, even the simplest 
rustics. Few had sufficient firmness of principle to refuse it, 
so much had all sense of religion been worn off from the 
minds of men by the numerous oaths that had been imposed, 
and by which conscience was debauched, and a spirit of 


atheism engendered. Some outcry was mode against it at 

first; but, after all, not one of the councillors refused it, 
except the Earl of Argyll. The prelatic clergy with very (c\v 
exceptions, and the bishops without one exception, swal- 
lowed the oath. The divines of Aberdeen, after publishing 
their objections against it, which closely resembled those of 
the Presbyterians, 1 tamely submitted with the rest. 

In the midst of this shameful degeneracy the Earl of Argyll, 
son of the Marquis of Argyll, who was martyred in 1661, dis- 
tinguished himself by his patriotic firmness and fidelity. 
When called upon, as a member of privy-council, to take the 
test, he made the following declaration : u I take it, in as far 
as it is consistent with itself and the Protestant religion; and 
I do declare, I mean not to bind up myself, in my station 
and in a lawful way, to endeavour any alteration I think to 
the advantage of the church or state, not repugnant to the 
Protestant religion and my loyalty." With this explication, 
he was allowed to take the test ; but the Duke of York, deter- 
mined to get rid of this patriotic nobleman, whom he disliked 
for his father's sake, and for his sound Protestant principles, 
made it the pretext of a prosecution against him for high 
/reason! After a trial remarkable for the greatest mockery of 
justice and perversion of law which ever disgraced our civil 
judicature, the Earl was brought in guilty, and committed to 
the castle. Finding that the Duke of York, his inveterate 
enemy, was resolved on his destruction, he was induced by 
his friends to avail himself of the means of escape; and, on 
the 20th of December, about nine o'clock at night, he stole 
out of the castle, in the disguise of a page, holding up the 
train of his step-daughter, the lady Sophia Lindsay. 8 

At this time, the prospect of the accession of the Duke of 
York, his well-known devotedness to the Romish Church. 

1 For example, the following is one of their exceptions : "How can I swear 
that I believe the king's majesty to be the only supreme governor over all 
persons and in all causes, when the forcmentioned Confession obliges me 
to believe Jesus Christ to be the only head of the Church; and when I 
believe aU'ecclesiastic authority to be derived from Christ, and not from 
secular princes; and when I believe the king's power to be cumulative, and 
not destructive of the intrinsic power of the Church?" &c. [Wodrow, iii. 
p. 304.) 

2 Fountainhall's Decisions, i. 167. — A minute account ol the manner in 
which he effected his escape to Holland, with the aid of Mr. Veitch, is given 
in M'Crie's Memoirs of Yehch, &c, p. v. 


and the obvious tendency of his policy, filled the country 
with a dread of the restoration of Popery. This feeling 
pervaded all classes, of which, perhaps, there cannot be a 
better proof than the fact, that it descended even to school- 
boys and apprentices. On Christmas, 1681, a few days after 
the escape of Argyll, they publicly burned the Pope in effigy 
at the cross of Edinburgh. The students at the university 
having been severely punished for this the preceding year, 
the preparations were on this occasion conducted so quietly 
that none suspected the design. Having fixed a chair on the 
spot where the gallows stood, they tucked up his holiness in 
a red gown and mitre, with two keys over his arm, a crucifix 
in the one hand and the test in the other; and having applied 
fire to the figure, " it brunt lenty at first till it came to the 
powder, at which he blew up in the air." 1 The boys at Heriot's 
Hospital adopted a more ingenious mode of testifying their 
sentiments. Finding that the dog which guarded the outer 
gate of the hospital held " a public office,'"' they voted that 
he ought to take the test or be hanged. They offered him the 
paper, which he absolutely refused ; they then rubbed it over 
with butter, which they called "the explication of the test;" 
and when again presented, he licked off the butter, but 
rejected the paper; upon which, after a long trial, in ridicule 
of the absurd reasoning of the crown lawyers on Argyll's 
case, they found the dog guilty of kising making, and act- 
ually hanged him. 2 In Glasgow the same spirit was mani- 
fested in a different manner. The students put on favours 
and coloured ribbons, in token of their being Protestants. 
For this some of their leaders were arrested, and, among 
others, the young Marquis of Annandale, who briskly de- 
fended himself and his companions. In addressing the 
bishop who sat as their judge, he had called him only " Sir." 
'•'William," said his regent, "you do not understand whom 
you are speaking to; he is a greater person than yourself." 
" I know," said Annandale, " that the king has made him a 
spiritual lord; but I know likewise that my father's son is not 
to be compared with the son of the piper of Arbroath." 3 

1 Fountainhall's Hist. Obs. p. 55. 

2 Ibid. p. 56. In this work a curious account of the trial of the dog is 
inserted, p. 303. 

3 Wodrow, iii. 345. 


It has been often said, and generally supposed, that the 
Presbyterians who suffered during this period were chiefly 
persons in the lower ranks of life. This, however, is an error 
which may easily be rectified by a glance at the annals of 
the persecution, and the lists of proscribed individuals. 
These will be found to comprehend some of the highest of 
the nobility, and the greater part of the gentry and substan- 
tial yeomanry of the country. The poorest classes were in 
general hostile to the Covenanters, and too often lent them- 
selves as informers against them. 

Among the gentlemen who suffered at this period we may 
briefly notice Sir Hugh Campbell of Cesnock, the Rev. 
William Carstairs, Robert Baillie of Jerviswood, and Sir 
Patrick Hume of Pol wart, who were all brought into trouble 
in consequence of being suspected of accession to the Rye- 
house plot, in 1684, for their supposed share in which those 
illustrious patriots, Lord Russel and Algernon Sidney, had 
suffered death. Sir Hugh Campbell was brought to trial on 
this charge; but finding no evidence to implicate him in the 
plot, they determined to ruin him by a charge of accession 
to the rising at Bothwell, and permitting conventicles to 
meet on his estate. Sir Hugh proved his innocence of these 
crimes beyond all doubt; but one witness remained, named 
Ingram, who had been heard to swear that he would be 
revenged on him for some supposed injury, and on whose 
evidence his prosecutors depended. Ingram held up his 
hand to take the oath. " Take heed what you are about to 
do," said Sir Hugh, looking him steadily in the face, " and 
damn not your own soul by perjury; for, as I shall answer 
to God, I never saw you in the face before, nor spoke to 
you." The man was staggered by this appeal, and refused 
to depone the promised falsehood. A loud shout of ap- 
plause proclaimed the delight of the audience at this failure 
of the proof. The disappointed judges were incensed; and 
Sir George Mackenzie, the lord advocate, declared in a pas- 
sion that " he never heard of such a Protestant roar, except 
in the trial of Shaftesbury." The jury having brought in a 
verdict of " Not guilty," were insulted, and threatened with 
imprisonment for joining in the applause; the witnesses were 
kept in confinement; and Sir Hugh himself, though he 
escaped with life, was committed a prisoner to the Bass, 


and deprived of his estate, which was given to one of his 

The Rev. William Carstairs, afterwards principal of the 
University of Edinburgh, and well known as the confiden- 
tial correspondent of King William, was suspected of the 
same plot; and refusing to betray any of his friends, was 
subjected, about the same time, to the torture of the thumb- 
kins — an instrument newly introduced, which inclosed the 
fingers, and, by means of a screw, was made to compress 
the joints so as to produce the most exquisite pain. 1 The 
minister endured this torture with the greatest fortitude, 
steadily refusing to answer any questions which might impli- 
cate his friends. After some time, however, worn out by 
rigorous confinement, he agreed to make some disclosures 
upon receiving a solemn promise from government that 
" nothing he said should be brought, directly or indirectly, 
against any man in trial." His evidence involved Robert 
Baillie of Jerviswood, as one who had met with others to 
consult what steps should be taken for the support of the 
Protestant religion, in the event of the Duke of York suc- 
ceeding to the crown. To the disgrace of the government, 
as well as his own unspeakable distress, this evidence was 
not only published and hawked about the streets, but ad- 
duced by the king's advocate as "an adminicle of proof " 
against that worthy gentleman. Mr. Carstairs lived to take 
a prominent part in the Revolution. He was as yet more 
distinguished as a politician than as a clergyman; and from 
the influence he possessed over King William in the man- 
agement of the civil affairs of Scotland, he was generally 
known at court by the name of " Cardinal Carstairs." 2 

Robert Baillie of Jerviswood was one of the most amiable 
and engaging characters of this dark period of our history. 
Gentle in disposition and bland in manners, yet firm and 
faithful to his religious principles, pious and learned, he 

1 After the Revolution Mr. Carstairs procured the instrument by which 
he had been tortured, which is still in the possession of his descendants. It 
is said that King William, being curious to see it, inserted his royal fingers 
in the thumbkins; and Carstairs, at his desire, having given the screw a 
turn, his majesty exclaimed, "Hold, hold, principal; another turn, and I 
would confess anything." 

2 The character of this worthy and much-respected minister has suffered 
from the misrepresentations of it in the very moderate account of his life 
drawn up by Dr. M 'Cormick, and prefixed to his state papers. 


united accomplishments rarely to be found among the gentle- 
men of his age, with the virtues of the patriot and the mar- 
tyr. Attached to the cause of liberty and Protestantism, his 
well-tried loyalty could not shield him from the malice of a 
government bent on subjecting the nation to Popery and 
despotism. He was thrown into prison, where he contracted 
an illness which brought him to the gates of death. His 
enemies, eager to obtain possession of his property, and 
afraid he might die in their hands before his attainder en- 
abled them to reach it, made sure, in the first place, of 
^5000, by fining him to that amount; and when to all ap- 
pearance a dying man, and unable to stand, they dragged 
him from his sick-bed to the bar on an impeachment of high 
treason. He appeared in his night-gown attended by his 
sister, who administered cordials to prevent him from sink- 
ing during the trial. His pretended crime was " intercom- 
muning with rebels " — in other words, having harboured or 
conversed with fugitive Presbyterians; along with which 
they attempted to combine a charge of accession to the 
Ryehouse plot, by shamefully producing against him the 
evidence they had procured from Carstairs. 1 The evidence 
completely failed; even the judges were satisfied of his inno- 
cence; but the council had determined he should die. In 
vain he appealed to their sense of justice. " Did you not/' 
he said, addressing Mackenzie, who acted as king's advo- 
cate, " did you not own to me privately in prison that you 
were satisfied of my innocence? And are you now con- 
vinced in your conscience that I am more guilty than be- 
fore?" The whole audience fixed their eves on the person 
thus addressed, who appeared in no small confusion, and 
replied, " Jerviswood, I own what you say; but my thoughts 
there were as a private man : what I say here is by special 
direction of the privy-council;" and, pointing to the clerk, 
he added, "He knows my orders." "Well," said Jervis- 
wood, on hearing this unprincipled avowal, " if your lord- 
ship have one conscience for yourself, and another for the 
council, I pray God forgive you; I do." Then, turning to 

1 Jervis\vood had been arrested on this charge in England, and was offered 
his life if he would consent to turn king's evidence. He replied to this, with 
a smile, "They who can make such a proposal to me, know neither me nor 
my country." {Dalrymplc's Memoirs of Great Britain, i. S9.) 


the justice-general, he said, " My lord, I trouble your lord- 
ships no longer." 

The trial concluded at one o'clock in the morning, 
December 24, 1684; and his sentence was, to be taken that 
same day (no time could be lost), between two and four 
o'clock, to the Market Cross of Edinburgh, there to be 
hanged on a gibbet till dead, and thereafter his head to be 
struck off, and his body quartered. When this doom was 
pronounced, he said, " My lords, the time is short, the sen- 
tence is sharp ; but I thank my God who hath made me as 
fit to die as ye are to live." 

When sent back to prison, " he leaned over the bed and 
fell into a wonderful rapture of joy, from the assurance he 
had that in a few hours he should be inconceivably happy." 
Being asked how he was, he answered, " Never better, and 
in a few hours I'll be well beyond conception! They are 
going to send me in pieces and quarters through the country; 
they may hack and hew my body as they please, but I know 
assuredly nothing shall be lost, but all these my members 
shall be wonderfully gathered, and made like Christ's glori- 
ous body." On the scaffold he behaved with the utmost 
serenity, though unable, from bodily exhaustion, to go up 
the ladder without support. He began to say, " My faint 
zeal for the Protestant religion has brought me to this end " 
— when the drums were ordered to beat, and he resigned 
himself to the executioner. " Their spite against the dead 
body of this saint was very great; and I am told," says 
Wodrow, " the quarters of it lay in the thieves'-hole for three 
weeks, before they were placed as in the sentence." 1 "And 
thus," says Bishop Burnet, "a learned and worthy gentle- 
man, after twenty months' hard usage, was brought to such 
a death in a way so full, in all the steps of it, of the spirit 
and practice of the courts of the Inquisition, that one is 
tempted to think that the steps taken in it were suggested 
by one well studied, if not practised, in them." It is gratify- 
ing to reflect, that while the names of his persecutors have 
been forgotten, or are only remembered with execration, the 
memory of this excellent gentleman is still embalmed in the 

1 Wodrow, iv. 104-112, and Addenda. — "Mr. Baillie of Jerviswood had 
his life taken from him at the cross; and everybody was sorry, though they 
durst not show it." {Lady Murray's Memoirs, p. 41.) 



memory of Scotland, and in the hearts of all good men, and 
that his descendants have risen to opulence and honour in 
the country. 1 

Baillie's friend and companion in tribulation, Sir Patrick 
Hume of Polwart, escaped from prison, and lay for a long 
time in a place of concealment so remarkable, that it is not 
surprising he should have eluded all the efforts of his pur- 
suers. With the assistance of a faithful domestic, to whom 
alone the secret was imparted, his wife and daughter con- 
veyed a bed during night to the family burying-place in a 
vault under ground at Polwart church, where Sir Patrick 
remained safe during a whole month, with no light except 
what was admitted through a small aperture at the one end 
of the vault. As night approached, his noble and amiable 
daughter, Grisell, afterwards Lady Grisell Baillie, 2 repaired 
to this gloomy receptacle with his victuals, and remained 
with him till daybreak. The following interesting account 
of these midnight interviews is given by Lady Murray, the 
daughter of the youthful heroine: " Lady Grisell had at that 
time a terror for a churchyard, especially in the dark, as is 
not uncommon at that age, by idle nursery stories; but when 
engaged by concern for her father, she stumbled over the 
graves every night alone without fear of any kind entering 
her thoughts, but for soldiers and parties in search of him, 
which the least noise or motion of a leaf put her in terror 
for. The minister's house was near the church; the first 
night she went his dogs kept such a barking as put her in 
the utmost fear of a discovery; my grandmother (the wife 
of Sir Patrick) sent for the minister next day, and upon pre- 
tence of a mad dog, got him to hang all his dogs. There 
was also difficulty of getting victuals to carry him without 
the servants suspecting; the only way it was done was by 
stealing it off her plate at dinner into her lap. Many a 
diverting story she has told about this and other things of a 

1 Among his illustrious descendants is the present Marchioness of Bread- 
albane. "You have truly men of great spirits in Scotland," said Dr. Owen 
to a friend; "there is for a gentleman, Air. Baillie of Jerviswood, a person 
of the greatest abilities I ever almost met with." 

2 She was married to George Baillie, son of the martyred Jerviswood, 
between whom and Lady Grisell a mutual attachment had been formed in 
the prison where they had been accustomed to meet while their fathers were 
in confinement. 


like nature. Her father liked sheep's head; and while the 
children were eating their broth, she had conveyed most of 
one into her lap: when her brother Sandy, the late Lord 
Marchmont, had done, he looked up with astonishment, 
and said, 'Mother, will you look at Grisell; while we have 
been eating our broth, she has ate up the whole sheep's 
head !' This occasioned so much mirth amongst them, that 
her father at night was greatly entertained by it, and desired 
Sandy might have a share of the next. His great comfort 
and constant entertainment (for he had no light to read by), 
was repeating Buchanan's psalms, which he had by heart 
from beginning to end, and retained them to his dying day." 1 
Sir Patrick Hume ultimately escaped out of the country, 
and after the Revolution was created Earl of Marchmont 
and chancellor of Scotland. The good old Presbyterian 
retained the same composure and cheerfulness of mind till 
his death, which was at the age of eighty-four. 

In February, 1685, died Charles II., and was succeeded 
by his brother, the Duke of York, under the title of James 
VII. of Scotland, and II. of England. The accession of an 
avowed Papist to the throne, in itself a flagrant breach of 
the constitution, was followed by other steps paving the way 
for popish ascendency. The Scottish parliament, more ready 
than the English to favour the projects of James, without 
even requiring him to take the coronation oath, vowed the 
most slavish submission to his will. Several unsuccessful 
attempts were made to avert the catastrophe. Among these 
was the invasion of the Earl of Argyll, the progress and issue 
of which are matters of civil history. The last moments of 
this unfortunate nobleman come more properly within our 
province. His whole demeanour, after his apprehension, 
was marked by a calm fortitude and Christian resignation 
becoming the son of the protomartyr of the covenant. His 
last Sabbath on earth was spent with the most heavenly de- 
votion. To his sister, the Lady Lothian, who was much af- 
fected on taking farewell of him, he said, " I am now loosed 
from you and all earthly satisfactions, and long to be with 
Christ, which is far better. It seems the Lord thought me 

1 Memoirs of George Baillie of Jerviswood, and of Lady Grisell Baillie, 
by their daughter, Lady Murray of Stanhope, p. 36-38. 


not fit to be an instrument in his work; but I die in the 
faith of it, that it will advance, and that the Lord will appear 
for it. I hear they cannot agree about the manner of my 
death; but I am assured of my salvation; as for my body, I 
care not what they do with it. Sister," he added, while his 
heart filled at the thought of his afflicted wife, "be kind to my 
Jeanie? About an hour before his execution he dined with 
great cheerfulness, and having been accustomed to sleep a 
little after meals, he lay down, and took his usual repose. 
An officer of state, coming to visit him at this time, would 
not believe that he was asleep, till the door of the apartment 
was softly opened, and he was permitted to look in. He 
instantly rushed home in a state bordering on distraction. 
"Argyll within an hour of eternity, and sleeping as pleasantly 
as a child !" His conscience smote him when he thought 
how differently he would have felt in the same circumstances. 
On the scaffold the earl's deportment was equally becoming. 
Having addressed the multitude, prayed, and forgiven his 
enemies, the Episcopal clergyman who attended said aloud, 
"This nobleman dies a Protestant." Argyll stepped forward 
and said, "I die not only a Protestant, but with a heart- 
hatred of Popery, Prelacy, and all superstition whatsoever." 
He then laid his head on the block, and saying, "Lord 
Jesus, receive me into thy glory!" he gave the fatal sign by 
raising his hand, and the axe severed his head from his 

Though the Earl of Argyll had been for several years a 
member of the government, and in this capacity may be said, 
in one sense, to have participated in the guilt of their pro- 
cedure, yet he seems to have been all along animated by a 
genuine love to liberty and religion. His unsuccessful effort 
to free his country from the chains of despotism entitles him 
to our gratitude as a patriot; and the manner of his death 
ranks him in the list of our martyrs. 

The unfortunate attempt of Argyll led to still greater se- 
verities against the Presbyterians. The jails of Edinburgh 
being filled with prisoners, it was resolved, on hearing the 
first news of the invasion, to transport a number of them to 
Dunottar Castle, a fortified place on the east coast of Scot- 
land, near the village of Stonehaven, the ruins of which still 
remain. Some of them were allowed to escape on taking 


the oath of supremacy. The rest, who stood faithful, to the 
number of one hundred and sixty-seven persons, men and 
women, after being driven like cattle through Fife and along 
the coast of Angus, were thrust promiscuously into a dark 
vault under ground, full of mire, and with only one window 
looking to the sea. In this horrid situation they were pent 
up during the whole summer. Many of them died from dis- 
ease, and the lives of the rest were made bitter by the bar- 
barity of their keepers. It seemed to be the policy of gov- 
ernment to compel these poor people to forswear themselves, 
by pushing them to the utmost verge of human endurance; 
and their inflexible fidelity had only the effect, uniformly 
observed in the history of persecution, of inflaming the rage 
and malignity of their persecutors. Twenty-five of the pris- 
oners made their escape one day down the rocks on which 
the castle was built ; but fifteen of these, betrayed by the low 
people of the neighbourhood, were apprehended, and cruelly 
tortured. They were bound hand and foot on a form, with 
a fiery match betwixt every finger, six soldiers waiting on 
by turns to keep the matches alive. Some of them expired 
under this diabolical treatment, while others were shock- 
ingly mutilated, the very bones of their fingers being burned 
to ashes. 

Soon after this a change took place, which gave a tem- 
porary respite to the suffering Presbyterians. James, having 
awakened the jealousy of the nation by the dissolution of his 
parliaments and the admission of Papists to places of power 
and trust, found it necessary, for the accomplishment of his 
darling purpose, to ingratiate himself with the dissenters. 
With this view he published, in 1687, various acts of indul- 
gence, professedly with the view of giving " liberty of con- 
science," and " allaying the heats and animosities among the 
several professors of the Christian religion," but really in 
order to rescind all penal statutes and disabilities affecting 
the Papists. In the very act of granting these indulgences 
James challenged a dispensing and absolute power, directly 
at variance with all civil and religious liberty. " We have 
thought fit to grant," said he, in one of his proclamations, 
" and by our sovereign authority, prei-ogative royal, and abso- 
lute power, which all our subjects are to obey without reserve, 
do hereby give and grant our royal toleration." Besides this 


unconstitutional stretch of authority, the indulgences were at 
first clogged with various restrictions. The toleration was 
only extended to " moderate Presbyterians," and to such as 
were willing to accept of the boon, permitting them to meet 
in private houses, but discharging them to meet in barns 
or meeting-houses, and with a renewal of all the former 
severities against preaching in the fields. In this shape 
not one of the Presbyterians accepted of the indulgence. 
In April of the same year, however, James published his 
" Declaration for Liberty of Conscience," in which still 
farther concessions were made; and this was followed in July 
by a third toleration, abolishing all penal statutes against 
nonconformity to the religion established by law, and taking 
off all the former restrictions, except the prohibition of field 
meetings. Of the benefit of the indulgence in this form 
many of the Presbyterian ministers deemed it their duty to 

" The Cameronians," says Dr. Cook, " who had renounced 
their allegiance to a tyrannical sovereign, acted consistently 
when the indulgence was offered to them, and they boldly 
refused to take advantage of what had flowed from so pol- 
luted a source." 1 It is impossible not to admire the heroism 
of these men, who ventured, in their individual capacities, 
to anticipate the judgment uttered in the following year by 
the voice of the three kingdoms. Though with some of their 
principles of opposition to government we do not agree, yet 
it cannot be denied that the daring fidelity of this persecuted 
remnant presents a striking and honourable contrast to the 
pusillanimity of the nation in submitting so long to a tyrant, 
who, by casting off all regard to the constitution, had given 
the signal of defiance to all the friends of civil and religious 
liberty. Nor can we justify the conduct of those Presbyterian 
ministers who accepted of the indulgence, and particularly 
of some who went so far as to thank the king for the in- 
sidious measure as "a gracious and surprising favour." To 
exercise their ministry without molestation was no more than 
to resume those rights of which they had been wrongfully 
deprived; but to do so in the way of pledging their loyalty, 
without protesting against the monstrous usurpation of power 

1 Cook's History of the Church of Scotland, iii. 431. 


from which the indulgence flowed, and the design for which 
it was obviously granted — the establishment of Popery — was 
a recognition of spiritual tyranny in the act of accepting re- 
ligious liberty. The readiness with which they grasped at 
this dangerous boon indicated a spirit worn out by long per- 
secution, and which manifested itself, after the Revolution, 
in too tamely submitting to encroachments on their spiritual 
independence. But it is easier for us to censure them for 
what they did, than to say how we would have acted in the 
same trying circumstances. Meanwhile the ministers did all 
in their power to gather up the scattered fragments of their 
constitution. On the 30th of August, 1687, the synod of 
Glasgow and Ayr met in a house at Glasgow, and resolved 
on measures for the licensing of preachers and the settlement 
of congregations. They were thus prepared, in some mea- 
sure, for what Providence intended to do for the deliverance 
of their beloved church. 

Prelacy had now ruled over the Church of Scotland for 
nearly twenty-eight years, during which time its reign had 
been traced in blood, and upheld by oppression. It is a 
curious fact, that during all this time no attempt was made 
to introduce the ceremonies of the English Church. The 
form of worship differed very little from that practised by the 
Presbyterians. Our prelatic clergy had no liturgy, no cere- 
monies, no surplice, no altars, no crossing in baptism. 1 
What is more remarkable, they had no confession of faith, 
no standard of doctrine or discipline, no rule to guide their 
practice, except the will of the bishops, which, again, was 
regulated by the will of the king. A more nondescript 
church, perhaps, never appeared on earth; it was neither 
Popery, Prelacy, nor Presbytery, but a strange jumble of all 
the three — the king being pope, his council the cardinals, 
the bishops moderators, and the dragoons of Dalziel and 
Claverhouse, what Mackenzie once called them, the " ruling 
elders." The king, as supreme head of the church, deposed 
ministers, set aside bishops, and gave directions both as to 
the matter and manner of preaching. In 1670 a law was 
actually passed condemning the practice of lecturing ! The 
minister might preach as long as he chose from a single 

1 Sir G. Mackenzie's Vindication, p. 7. 


verse; but was forbidden, on pain of treason, to select two or 
more for the purpose of exposition. 

From the days of Archbishop Laud the Prelatists (we 
deny their exclusive claim to the title of Episcopalians) of 
Scotland (with the exception of Leighton, who retired in dis- 
gust at their proceedings, and Charteris, with a few others, 
who refused the test) were not only Arminian in their doc- 
trine, but quite prepared to symbolize and coalesce with 
Popery, had James succeeded in his designs — not so much 
from conviction, as from absolute lack of all principle, and 
exclusive devotion to their benefices. 1 Scottish Prelacy, 
indeed, has ever betrayed a strong leaning towards Popery: 
and as this proved its ruin at the Revolution, so it is one of 
the most hopeful symptoms of its being destined never to 
rise again, that its efforts to do so, in modern times, have 
been marked by the same fatal predilection. 2 Our danger 
unquestionably lies in the plausible pretensions of a " mod- 
erate Episcopacy." 

As the termination of its reign approached, Prelacy again 
dipped its hands in blood. After all others had ceased to 
hold field-meetings, contented with the liberty they enjoyed, 
or unwilling to expose their people to almost certain de- 
struction, by an unequal war with the royal forces, one indi- 
vidual alone continued to outbrave the government by 
persevering in the practice. This was Mr. James Renwick. 
Born of poor but pious parents, he was early devoted to the 
work of the ministry, and after finishing his course at the 
university, he went abroad, and received license in the 
United Provinces. In September, 1683, he returned to 
Scotland, and joining himself to the Society People, became 
their minister. With the ardour of youth, and the zeal of a 
martyr, he entered into all the extreme measures of his party ; 
he penned the Sanquhar Declaration, and preached with 
great keenness against all who accepted the various indul- 
gences and tolerations of the period. It may be easily 

1 See Letter of the Scots Bishops to the King, Nov. 3, 1688, in Wodrow, 
Iv. p. 4o3; Cook's Hist. iii. pp. 436, 437. 

2 William Forbes, who died Bishop of Edinburgh in 1634, was a con- 
firmed Puseyite of the 17th century as appears from his ConsiJcrationcs 
Modcstce et Pacificce, in which he pleads for meeting Rome " midway" in all 
the leading tenets of that system. "This," says Dr. Irving, "is reforming 

. ! ." [[Jves of Scottish Writers, vol. ii. p. 6.) 


conceived that such a character would be obnoxious to the 
government. Young as he was, they thirsted for his blood, 
and set a high price upon his head. After a variety of hair- 
breadth escapes, he was at last apprehended in the beginning 
of February, 1688. When brought before the council, he 
boldly avowed his principles, disowning the authority of the 
king, and acknowledging that he taught his people that it 
was unlawful to pay cess, and lawful to come in arms to the 
field-meetings to defend themselves against the king's forces. 
The council, struck with his ingenuousness and extreme 
youth, employed various methods to induce him to qualify or 
retract these sentiments, but in vain. He stood firm, and 
was brought to the scaffold. There he displayed the same 
noble intrepidity of mind, mingled with a spirit of cheerful 
and elevated devotion. " Lord," he said, in his last prayer, 
" I die in the faith that thou wilt not leave Scotland, but 
that thou wilt make the blood of thy witnesses to be the seed 
of thy Church, and return again and be glorious in this land. 
Now, Lord, I am ready; the bride, the Lamb's wife, hath 
made herself ready !" He died, February 18, 1688, in the 
twenty-sixth year of his age. 1 

We are told that " the drums beat all the time, from his 
first ascending the scaffold, till he was cast over, without 
intermission." The government were too conscious of the 
injustice of their cause, and too much afraid of the impression 
likely to be produced by the home truths which came from 
the lips of this faithful witness, to allow him to be heard. 
But they failed to stifle his testimony; and his death may be 
said to have sealed their doom. He was the last that 
suffered martyrdom in Scotland. God grant he may be the 
last that ever will ! 

During these twenty-eight years of persecution, it is com- 
puted that not less than eighteen thousand people suffered 
death, or the utmost hardships and extremities on account of 
religion. Of these about one thousand seven hundred were 
banished to the plantations; and of this number two hun- 
dred were lost in shipwreck, by the carelessness, or rather, as 
it appears, the cruelty of the seamen. About seven hundred 
and fifty were banished to the northern islands, and doomed 

1 Life and Death of James Renwick, by Shields; Biograph. Presby. vol. 
ii. ; Wodrow, iv. 445. 


to wear out a miserable existence on these then unpeopled 
shores. Those in addition who suffered imprisonment, and 
the privations accompanying it, are computed at above two 
thousand eight hundred. Those killed in the several skir- 
mishes and insurrections are reckoned at six hundred and 
eighty, and those who went into voluntary banishment about 
seven thousand. About four hundred and ninety-eight were 
murdered in cold blood; three hundred and sixty-two were 
executed by form of law. The number of those who perished 
through cold, hunger, and other privations, in prison, or in 
their wanderings upon the mountains, and their residence in 
caves, cannot be well calculated, but will certainly make up 
the sum total to the number above specified. 1 

But, as De Foe has beautifully remarked, " it would be 
endless to enumerate the names of the sufferers; and it has 
not been possible to come at the certain number of those 
ministers, or others, who died in prison and banishment — 
there being no record preserved of their prosecution in any 
court of justice; nor could any roll of their names be pre- 
served in those times of confusion anywhere, but under the 
altar, and about the throne of the Lamb, where their heads 
are crowned, and their white robes seen, and where an exact 
account of their number will at last be found. - 

The time, however, was fast approaching when this system 
of ecclesiastical tyranny, with the civil despotism to which it 
owed its existence, was doomed to fall; and when hope was 
at the lowest, and the cloud at the darkest, it pleased Divine 

1 Scots Worthies, Supplement, p. 568. The above is given as the fullest 
summary I have met with of the sufferings of this period. The computation, 
though probably well founded, is higher than that in other accounts. That 
given in the "Answer to Presbyterian Eloquence," p. 26, is confessedly 
imperfect. In a pamphlet entitled "Short Memorials of the Sufferings and 
Grievances of the Presbyterians," printed in 1690, | the numbers 

are given as follows: " Banished as slaves, since 167S, seven hundred. (This 
does not include those banished before and after I .and.) 

Slain in the several skirmishes, about four hundred some odds. Executed on 
scaffolds, under colour of law, one hundred and forty." This, however, does 
not appear to include those executed by the assizes held in different parts ot 
the country, and by private gentlemen acting under commission. ' ' As for the 
number of such as have been forced to voluntary exile to foreign cou: ll 
this writer says, "we think it impossible to come to any reckoning of them." 
Wodrow, who had the best means of information, seems to have despaired 
of drawing out a complete list of the numbers who suffered during the per- 

- Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, p. 158 

1689.] THE REVOLUTION. 379 

Providence to send deliverance. In January, 1689, the 
tyrant James fled from the country, and was succeeded on 
the throne by King William, amidst the acclamations of an 
emancipated people. Presbytery was restored to the Church, 
and liberty to the nation, of Scotland; and the sufferings of 
a twenty-eight years' persecution were terminated by a blood- 
less and glorious Revolution. 


1688— 1689. 

State of Scotland before the Revolution — Countenance shown to Popery — 
Riots in Edinburgh — Causes which led to the Revolution — Character 
of James II. — Alarm of the English clergy — Conduct of the Scottish 
bishops — The Revolution in Scotland — The Cameroniaus — Rabbling of 
the curates. 

The state of Scotland, as the hour of deliverance ap- 
proached, was in the last degree gloomy and portentous. 
For some time previous to the Revolution everything promised 
fair for the re-establishment of Popery, the darling object of 
the bigoted and infatuated James. The highest places of 
power and trust were filled by avowed Papists, or men 
devoted to the court. The Earl of Perth, who had become 
a convert to Romanism, was now chancellor of the kingdom. 
By the king's express orders some of the Scottish prelates 
were turned out, and others, who promised to be more com- 
pliant, were substituted in their place. The indulgences 
which had been granted to the Presbyterians, as we have 
already observed, had been too tamely submitted to by many 
of the ministers, who, worn out by a long course of persecu- 
tion, were too glad, even at the risk of appearing to own the 
Erastian power claimed by the monarch in dispensing the 
crafty boon, to embrace the opportunity of a breathing time 
to visit their flocks and administer to them the ordinances of 
religion. 1 The death of the heroic Renwick had deprived 

1 It admits of being questioned whether the indulgences of James might 
not in the end have defeated their object, and proved the means of reviving 
instead of destroying the strength of Presbytery. It is certain that the 
Scottish parliament was opposed to them, and that the prelatic clergy dreaded 
they would have the effect, as they said, " of bringing back the fanatic party, 
then almost entirely ruined and scattered through the world." [Balcarras 
Mem. p. 8; Memoirs of Ker, p. 10.) 


the Cameronians of their head, and seemed to have stifled 
the last voice that had dared openly to assert the cause of 
religious freedom. The country, overawed by an unprin- 
cipled soldiery, levied from the refuse of society, may be said 
to have been placed under martial law. The prisons were 
literally crowded with persons suspected of disaffection to the 
government, and all who refused on oath to renounce the 
covenant. To such a degree had suspicion seized on the 
minds of the prelatic clergy, that the slightest appearance of 
disrespect exposed a man to danger. Mr. Gordon, minister 
of the Scotch Church at Campvere, who had come over to 
visit his friends, happening to pass the Archbishop of Glas- 
gow on the streets of Edinburgh without lifting his hat, his 
grace, in high wrath, thus accosted him: "What are you, 
sir!" "Why do you inquire?" replied Gordon. "Why do 
you look with so thrawn a countenance?" pursued the arch- 
bishop. " My countenance is not thrawn, sir," said the 
minister; "I look as I ordinarily used to do." "If your 
countenance be ordinarily so," said the archbishop, " it is a 
very thrawn countenance!" " Sir, I have the same counten- 
ance that God has given me." " You should not look unciv- 
illy upon gentlemen," replied the prelate, abruptly leaving 
him. Shortly after this strange interlude, Mr. Gordon was 
summoned before the chancellor, was imprisoned in the 
castle, and narrowly escaped with his life. 

Meanwhile, Popery was receiving every kind of favour and 
encouragement. The children of the nobility were, in some 
instances by force, taken from their relatives, and sent 
abroad to be educated in Jesuit colleges. Schools under 
the care of popish priests, in which the poor were educated 
gratuitously, were erected in different parts, particularly at 
Holyrood House, where a printing press was also established 
for the publication of popish tracts. Romish ecclesiastics, 
of various shades, transported in shoals from the Continent, 
walked about the streets in their canonicals, and Edinburgh 
promised fair to assume, what James boasted of having 
effected with the English metropolis — " the appearance of a 
Catholic city." At the same time, as a fair specimen of the 
toleration which might be expected under popish ascendency, 
all attempts to enlighten the country by publications on the 
errors of Romanism were strictly suppressed, under pretext 


of their being "insulting to the king's religion." Rooksellers' 
shops were ransacked by orders of the chancellor, and all 
such works were seized and committed to the flames. 1 One 
James Glen, bolder than the rest, got himself into trouble by 
declaring to the macers of the court, on their coming to 
search his premises, that he had one book in his shop more 
severe against Popery than all other books in the world ; and 
on being required to show it, producing to them a copy of 
the Bible. 2 

This preposterous attempt to suppress public opinion pro- 
duced its usual effects. Intestine dissatisfaction daily in- 
creased, and found utterance in pasquinades and riots. 
The following characteristic scene may be given as an illus- 
tration of the popular feeling some time before the Revolu- 
tion: — " Feb. 1, 1688. There was a tumult and riot in the 
town of Edinburgh, being a convocation of the apprentices 
and the rabble against the avowed and public meetings for 
saying of mass and other popish worship; who disturbed 
the chancellor's lady and others at their skailing, by throwing 
dirt, and otherwise affronting them. This was taken so ill 
that some of the boys being apprehended, the privy council 
met this day, and ordained a baxter (baker) lad to be whip- 
ped through the Canongate. While the hangman is going 
about it, the boys again rose, beat the hangman, rescued the 
lad, and so continued all night making disorder. The coun- 
cil called in to the assistance of Graham's company Major 
White's men in the castle, and likewise the king's foot-guards, 
and the soldiers being drunk, they shot with ball among the 
boys, and killed a woman and a man, and Robert Mein, 
the postmaster's apprentice, though he was in no confluence 
at all; which some called a murder. Then all were com- 
manded off the streets, and all ordained to hang out h 1 

1 "Feb. 8, 1688. Alexander Ogstoun, bookseller in Edinburgh, is threat- 
ened for selling Usher's Sermons against the Papists, and the History of the 
French Prosecutions; and all the copies are taken from him, though popish 
books were publicly printed and sold." {Fountainhall's Decisions, i. 496.) 

2 Fountainhall, i. 398. 

3 "The bowets that were formerly ordered by the common council to be 
hung out for illuminating the streets by night, not answering, it seems, a 
new order was made at this time (October, 1684), for a lantern and candle 
to be hung out at the first story of every tenement or land, at five of the 
clock in the evening to burn till ten, from the 29th of October to the 1st 
of March, on the penalty of five merks Scots for every omission." {Mait- 
land's Hist, of Edinburgh, p. 105.) 

1 688.] POLICY OF JAMES. 383 

(lanterns); and some being apprehended, the next day a 
woman and two men were scourged; but to show how afraid 
they were of the common people's inclinations, they had 
them guarded all the way betwixt two files of musketeers 
and pikemen, for fear of being deforced again." 1 

A minute investigation of the causes which led to the 
Revolution does not come within our province. Historians 
are generally agreed in tracing that event mainly to the in- 
fatuated policy of the monarch. From the day of his cor- 
onation, when he refused to take the oath to maintain the 
Protestant religion, to the day of his abdication, when, in his 
flight to France, he threw the great seal into the Thames, 
the administration of James II. was a medley of outrages on 
the constitution, and of political blunders, only to be ex- 
plained by the intense bigotry that blinded him to every 
other consideration save that of reviving Popery. Without 
capacity or energy, he was consistent only in his fanaticism, 
and obstinate only in his infatuation. 2 His gloomy reign 
was marked by many deeds of cruelty, unredeemed by an 
act of clemency, or even by those warlike achievements 
which shed a fictitious splendour over the atrocities of other 
despots. Had he been content to rule according to the laws 
of the land, and enjoy the exercise without aiming at the 
ascendency of his religion, no reign promised to be more 
prosperous. But the sacrifices which the god of this world 
exacts from his slaves are often far more costly than those 
required from the servants of Christ. When the interests of 
Antichrist appear to require it, the dearest ties of nature must 
give way; the man must risk his life, and the monarch his 
crown. To secure the triumph of Popery, James yielded to 
the ghostly advices of his confessors, and rushed blindly on 
his own ruin. His last indulgence, by showing too plainly 
his design, brought matters to a crisis. 

The bishops and clergy of England were the first to sound 
the alarm. The popular dread of Popery, never altogether 

1 Fountainhall, Decis. i. 399. 

2 In point of consistency in his religion, as well as correctness of moral 
conduct, James had certainly the advantage of his brother Charles II., who, 
though professing himself a member of the Church of England, was a Papist 
at heart, and received the rites of the Romish communion the day before 
his death. {Ellis' Orig. Letters, 2d ser. vol. iv. 76. The Phcuix, vol. i. 


extinguished since the days of bloody Mary, was revived by 
the prospect of its restoration. The popish controversy was 
resumed; and. as the natural effect, the English clergy were 
not only led to adopt the weapons they had formerly em- 
ployed against dissent, but to abate in their hostility towards 
evangelical dissenters. They promised them full toleration, 
and even proposed " an universal blessed union of all the 
reformed churches, both at home and abroad, against our 
common enemies.'' 1 This undesigned approximation to the 
main object of the solemn league of 1643, brought about 
by the similarity of circumstances, was attended with other 
coincidences equally striking. We see the same stringent 
application of the royal supremacy, met by a similar resist- 
ance on the part of the Church; we see the same claim of 
independence made by the clergy, met by the same charge 
of rebellion on the part of the Crown. In the trial of the 
bishops before the court of commission, under the presidency 
of the infamous Jeffreys, we witness the unseemly spectacle 
of ecclesiastical judges summoned to appear before the civil, 
and shut up to deny the competency of the court. One of 
the bishops, desiring to know the commission by which the 
court sat, we hear Jeffreys bawling at the top of his voice: 
'•What commission have you to be so impudent in court? 
This man ought to be kept in a dark room. Why do you 
suffer him without a guardian ?" And " among the deputies 
at the bar, and probably undistinguished from the rest by the 
ignorant and arrogant chancellor, who looked down upon 
them all with like scorn, we see Sir Isaac Xewton, professor 
of mathematics in the university/' 2 And, in short, we feel 
as if we were transported back to the kirk of St. Giles in 
1637, when we learn that " Sprat himself chose to officiate 
as dean in Westminster Abbey; where, as soon as he gave 
orders for reading the declaration (of indulgence), so great 
a murmur arose that nobody could hear it; but before it was 
finished, no one was left in the church but a few preben- 
daries, and choristers, and the Westminster scholars; and he 
himself could hardly hold the proclamation in his hands for 
trembling." 3 

1 Calamy's Life of Baxter, p. 365. 

: Sir James Macintosh, History of the Revolution, p. 138. 

3 Macintosh, ib. p. 252. 


Thus, with few exceptions, the English clergy — a class 
the most devoted to monarchy, and who might otherwise 
have kept the whole country in submission to the house of 
Stuart — were hopelessly alienated by an encroachment on 
the spiritual jurisdiction of the Church, so glaring that, 
even as men of honour, they were compelled to assume the 
attitude of resistance. We say compelled ; for sad must have 
been the dilemma, and sore the struggle, before such a step 
could be taken by men who had been accustomed to preach 
the indefeasible right of kings, who had treated all that 
doubted with the fiercest scurrility, and had boasted of it, 
perhaps with reason, as the peculiar characteristic of the 
Church of England. 1 James himself was astonished to see 
these men lifting up the heel against him. But he forgot 
that though their theory may sound well, so long as it favours 
its supporters, it becomes a very different matter when turned 
against them; and that nothing tends so effectually to dis- 
cover the fallacy of the argument as to feel its edge. Had 
his majesty been less precipitate, he might have been more 
fortunate; but by seeking too much, he lost both substance 
and shadow. The clergy became alarmed, and not being 
prepared to change their creed in a day, they gladly hailed 
any change that might save at once their consciences and 
their livings. Even as it was, the Revolution came upon 
the English Church entirely by surprise. The Prince of 
Orange met at first with a very cold reception; many of the 
clergy " ran away at his approach, and were ashamed to 
make so quick a turn." 2 Little credit, after all, is due to 
their having opposed a course of policy so utterly reckless as 
that of James, a policy against which some of his best friends 
repeatedly warned him, at which even the pope is said to 
have been astonished, and which exposed him to the well- 
known taunt of the cardinal, on seeing the dethroned mon- 
arch at Versailles: — "There goes a man who has lost three 
kingdoms for a mass !" 

The alarm of the English clergy, in the prospect of the 
restoration of Popery, was not without foundation. Nothing, 
indeed, strikes the devout student of this portion of our 
history with more thorough conviction than the wonderful 
escape which, under the special providence of God, our 

1 Macintosh, Hist. Rev. p. 153. 2 Burnet, Hist. an. 1688. 



country made, at the Revolution, from being again brought 
under the dominion of the pope. Our historians have not, 
in general, attached sufficient weight to the accommodating 
genius of Popery, or to the predisposing causes which oper- 
ated in its favour. 1 Public morals had been debauched, and 
religious principle undermined, by the unblushing profligacy 
which disgraced the reign of the second Charles. In Eng- 
land, the last spark of patriotism and public spirit seemed to 
have been quenched in the blood of Russel and Sidney. 
Ignorance pervaded the mass of the population, who were 
prepared for almost any form of religion the government 
chose to prescribe. The hardiest and best portion of the 
dissenters, through dint of persecution, had been gradually 
wasted away, or drained off to the New World; 2 while the 
rest, crushed in spirit, and split into congregational fragments, 
without any common bond of union, were incapable of 
acting in concert, and presented an easy conquest to the 
enemy. With the exception of a few Presbyterians, they 
tamely licked the hand of the tyrant, thankful for the "indul- 
gence," which allowed them to preach the gospel, and care- 
less about the encroachments of that arbitrary power which 
would soon have banished them and the gospel out of the 
land. 3 When to all this w r e add, that James had a powerful 
ally in Louis XIV., whose dragonades for the extirpation ot 
Protestantism from France he heartily applauded, and on 
whose assistance he confidently relied; that the other Popish 
powers of the Continent were ready to support him; and that 
he could boast of having already reduced Ireland to the 
pope, our deliverance must appear little short of a miracle. 
The country was saved through the infatuation of a single 
man — saved through the intervention of another, the prince 
of the pettiest state in Europe — saved in spite of the most 
powerful combination of enemies, who seemed smitten at the 
critical hour by a sudden paralysis — and saved by the instru- 
mentality of a church which had always been the fast friend 

1 Bruce's Free Thoughts on Popery, p. 316, &c. 

2 By the lowest computation, "in England alone, from the restoration of 
Charles, in 1660, to the first indulgence of James, above fifteen thousand 
families had been ruined, and more than five thousand persons had died in 
bonds for mere matters of conscience to God." {Macintosh, Hist. Rev. pp. 
167, 175; Boguc and Ben net, Hist. Dissent, i. 106.) 

3 Clarkson's Life of Penn. 


of despotism, and the leaders of which shrank in dismay 
from the Revolution they were employed to accomplish. 

At this eventful crisis of our history, which brought the 
real principles of men to the test, the conduct of our Scottish 
prelates offers a striking contrast to that of their brethren in 
England. While the English clergy, forgetting in their alarm 
for the safety of the Protestant religion their high notions 
about passive obedience, were presenting a firm front to the 
usurpations of James, our Scotch bishops were crouching at 
his feet. No sooner did they hear of the proposal of the 
Prince of Orange to come over and deliver these realms from 
the gripe of Popery and arbitrary power, than they addressed 
a letter to King James, dated November 3, 1688 (by which 
time William had sailed from Holland); in which, after 
addressing the tyrant in a strain of the most fulsome adulation, 
they assure him of their "firm and unshaken loyalty;" pray- 
ing "that his enemies may be clothed with shame, and that 
on his royal head the crown may flourish;" not doubting, 
they add, " that God, in his great mercy, will still preserve 
and deliver your majesty, by giving you the hearts of your 
subjects and the necks of your enemies." 1 This letter may 
be reckoned a genuine sample of the spirit of Scottish Prelacy, 
from the Reformation down to the present period; and "when 
it is recollected that it was addressed to a sovereign who had 
unambiguously shown his intention to subvert the freedom 
and the religion of Britain, and that it was meant to defeat 
the enterprise of a prince who had emblazoned on his banners 
— ' the Protestant religion and liberties of England,' there 
can be little hesitation as to the light in which it is to be 
regarded." 2 

But the hour of deliverance had come. On the 4th of 
November, 1688, William, prince of Orange, landed on the 
shores of England. He immediately published a declaration, 
in which, after detailing the causes of his expedition, he 
announced, that neither he nor his princess (the daughter of 
James), intended to claim the crown, but to leave the suc- 
cession to be decided by parliament, and that their sole 
object was to deliver the nation from the threatened mischiefs 
of Popery and arbitrary power. This declaration was received 

1 Letters of the Scots bishops to the king ; Wodrow, vol. iv. 468. 

2 Cook's History of the Church of Scotland, vol. iii. 435. 


everywhere with extraordinary enthusiasm. The coincidence 
of the period 1688 with that of 1588, in the preceding cen- 
tury, which had witnessed the destruction of the Spanish 
Armada, contributed to enhance the expectations of all the 
friends of Protestantism. The nation appeared to "awake" 
as from a troubled dream; to "shake herself from the dust" 
of her prostration, and, in one day, to "put on her strength" 
for the struggle, and " her beautiful garments," for celebrating 
the victory. 

The news of the prince's arrival and of the flight of James 
soon reached Scotland, spreading dismay among the friends 
of the late government, who were quite unprepared for the 
event. In the absence of the regular troops, which had been 
ordered to England, the privy-council issued hasty orders 
for a levy of all fencible men, from sixteen to sixty. 1 The 
orders were answered by shouts for the Prince of Orange. 
The metropolis became the centre of resort from all places 
of the kingdom, and it was quickly seen that the authority 
of the late king was at an end. The power of the council 
and the bishops dwindled into contempt. The symbols of 
office dropped from their hands, and they who had ruled 
with a rod of iron began to consult for their own safety. It 
is a striking illustration at once of their guilt and their cow- 
ardice, that among the last acts of their expiring power was 
an attempt to obliterate, as far as possible, the remaining 
vestiges of their despotism. They hastened to set at liberty 
those whom Claverhouse had imprisoned for refusing to re- 
nounce the covenant, and to take down and bury out of 
sight the heads of the martyrs — some of which had remained 
bleaching in the sun for twenty-eight years on the gates and 
market-crosses of the town — lest the horrid spectacles might 
be appealed to as monuments of their cruelty, and " might 
occasion the question to be moved, by whom, and for what, 
they were set up there?" 2 

Let it not be supposed, however, that this arose from any 
relenting in behalf of the Presbyterians. On the contrary, 
up to the last moment, " till they saw the cloud hovering 
and the storm ready to break upon their heads," our pre- 

1 Balcarras, pp. 28, 32 ; Wodrow, iv. 467. 

2 Sufferings and Grievances of Presbyterians in Scotland, particularly of 
those of them called, by nickname, Cameronians, p. 28. 


latic rulers maintained their character as persecutors. It 
was not till the trumpets of the Prince of Orange were heard 
pealing the signal of the nation's redemption, that the sword 
of persecution was sheathed. The jailer heard it, and re- 
luctantly unbarred his dungeon. The dragoons of Claver- 
house heard it when their victims were kneeling before them 
with muffled faces ready to receive the fatal shot, and their 
fingers were withdrawn from the trigger. 1 Persecutors and 
persecuted were alike astonished at the suddenness of the 
change. They were like men that dreamed. But they 
awakened to very opposite feelings. The persecutor slunk 
away, rankling with disappointed rage; while the Church of 
Scotland, after twenty-eight years' oppression, rose from the 
earth, unmuffled and unmanacled, to hail the dawn of a 
glorious revolution! 2 

The events which led to the establishment of the Revolu- 
tion in Scotland, interesting as they are, belong rather to 
civil than ecclesiastical history; and we may now suppose 
them to pass in rapid review before us. The Earl of Perth, 
justly afraid of his personal safety, flees from Edinburgh in 
the disguise of a fisherman; is detected in Fife, and thrown 
into the jail of Kirkcaldy. The administration falls into the 
hands of the friends of William. The castle of Edinburgh, 
under the Duke of Gordon, a Papist, still holds out for the 
king. The citizens of Edinburgh being alarmed by a report 
that a number of Papists had got into the town, and designed 
to burn it that night, the whole turn out of their houses into 
the streets — mothers are seen running with their children, 
"crying out they would all be murdered by the Irishes!" 
Finding no appearance of the enemy, the mob is easily in- 

1 Sufferings and Grievances, &c, p. 29. 

2 "This," says Defoe, "puts me in mind of a brief story within the 
compass of my own knowledge, of a gentleman who was set upon by a 
furious mastiff dog: the gentleman defended himself with a sword for some 
time, but the mastiff, after being very much wounded, got within his point 
and fastened on his arm. The gentleman being in great distress, and fear- 
ing every moment that he would quit his arm and fasten upon his throat, 
had no other way to master this great dog, but being a large heavy man, 
he cast himself fiat down upon the dog, with his other elbow lying on the 
dog's breast, and thus with the weight of his body crushed the beast to 
death; and upon this he observed, that as the dog died gradually under 
him, so fast and no faster his teeth loosened in his arm; his fury ended 
with his life, and both ended together." {Mem. of the Church of Scotland, 
p. 289.) 


duced to march in the direction of Holyrood House. Irri- 
tated by the opposition of the few soldiers left to guard the 
palace under Captain Wallace, who fire on them and kill 
some of the crowd, they burst open the gates, take reprisals 
on the soldiers, gut the chapel of its ornaments, popish 
books, and all monuments of idolatry, and make a bonfire 
of them. In fine, the convention of estates, summoned by 
William to settle the affairs of government, meet on the 
14th of March, 1689, and declare, "That James VII. , being 
a professed Papist, did assume the royal power, and acted 
as king, without ever taking the oath required by law; and 
had, by the advice of evil counsellors, invaded the funda- 
mental constitution of the kingdom, and altered it from a 
legal limited monarchy to an arbitrary, despotic power ; and 
hath exerted the same to the subversion of the Protestant 
religion, and violation of the laws and liberties of the king- 
dom; whereby he hath forfaulted his right to the crown, and 
the throne has become vacant." 1 

At this period the party which took the most prominent 
share in helping on the Revolution was that known by the 
name of Cameronians — so called from their following the 
principles of Richard Cameron, who was the first among 
the Presbyterians that openly threw off his allegiance to the 
reigning monarch, on the ground of his open tyranny and 
usurpation of the rights of Jesus Christ. This class of 
Presbyterians, who may be viewed as forming at that time a 
political party as well as a religious sect, were distinguished 
from their brethren by making their views of civil govern- 
ment a religious question, and acting upon these views to 
the extent of openly declaring war against the tyrant on the 
throne. They had thus the start of the rest of the nation: 
and whatever may be thought of the arguments on which 
they rested, or of the prudence and expediency of such a 
small minority in the nation assuming the attitude of resist- 
ance, there can be no question that the political principles 
which they professed were adopted and acted upon by the 
nation at large when the tyrant was hurled from the throne 

1 "The Scots were as unanimous for the dethroning King James as the 
English were for abdicating him. They were not satisfied with the soft 
word abdication; they resolved roundly that he had forj aul led (forfeited) 
the crown." (Old mixon's Memoirs, p. 28.) 

1689.] T HE CAMEROMANS. 39 1 

at the Revolution. Compared with those who tamely sub- 
mitted to the will of the government, it is impossible to 
deny them the palm of superior courage and consistency. 
Composed for the most part of the respectable yeomen and 
humbler classes of society, they numbered in their ranks a 
few of the landed gentlemen of the country; and in the 
societies which they kept up for social worship and consul- 
tation, in the absence, or after the removal of their pastors, 
they maintained a character for an ardent piety and a strict- 
ness of discipline corresponding to the high principles of 
their profession. " Their standing on the mountains of 
Scotland," says an eloquent divine, " indicated to the vigil- 
ant eye of William that the nation was ripening for a change. 
They expressed what others thought, uttering the indigna- 
tion and groans of a spirited and oppressed people. While 
Lord Russel, and Sidney, and other enlightened patriots in 
England, were plotting against Charles, from a conviction 
that his right was forfeited, the Cameronians in Scotland, 
under the same conviction, had the courage to declare war 
against him. Both the plotters and the warriors fell; but 
their blood watered the plant of renown, and succeeding 
ages have eaten the pleasant fruit." 1 

As this class had suffered more than any other from the 
persecutions of the preceding reign, we need not wonder to 
find them among the first to hail the Prince of Orange as 
their deliverer. " Now it was seen," says Defoe, "and made 
plain to the world, that the suffering people in Scotland 
acted upon no principles of enthusiasm, blind zeal, or religi- 
ous frenzy, as their enemies suggested; that they were no 
enemies to monarchy, civil government, order of society, and 
the like, as had been scandalously said ; but that they kept 
strictly to the rule of God's word, adhered to an honest 
cause, and acted upon just principles." 2 This is partly borne 
out by the public declarations, as well as actings, of the 
Cameronians at the present period. In one of their papers 
presented to King William they say, "We have given as 
good evidence of our being willing to be subjects to King 
William, as we gave proof before of our being unwilling to 
be slaves to King James. Before we offered to be soldiers 

1 Charters' Sermons, p. 277. 

2 Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, p. 301. 


we first made an offer to be subjects." 1 This offer was made 
in their petition, addressed to the meeting of the estates, in 
which, after beseeching them by all that is holy and just, 
and by the blood of their murdered brethren, to declare the 
crown vacant, they say, "We cry and crave that King Wil- 
liam, now of England, may be chosen and proclaimed King 
of Scotland, and that the regal authority be devolved upon 
him, with such necessary conditions of compact as may give 
just and legal securities of the peace and purity of our re- 
ligion, stability of our laws, privileges of our parliaments, and 
subjects' liberties, civil and ecclesiastic, and make our sub- 
jection both a clear duty and a comfortable happiness. 
And because kings are but men, mortal, mutable, and fallible, 
particularly we crave, that he be bound in his royal oath, 
not only to govern according to the will and command of 
God, ancient laws, &c, but, above all, that he and his suc- 
cessors profess and maintain the true Protestant religion, 
abolish Popery and all false religion, heresy, idolatry, and 
superstition; revive the penal laws against the same; rees- 
tablish and redintegrate the ancient covenanted work ot 
reformation of this church, in doctrine, worship, discipline, 
and government, according to the Word of God, Confession 
of Faith, covenants, National and Solemn League, upon its 
old foundations, as established from the year 1638 to 1650: 
and that he restore and confirm, by his princely sanction, 
the due privileges of the church, granted to her by Jesus 
Christ, her only head and supreme, and never assume to 
himself an Erastian supremacy over the Church in causes 
ecclesiastic, or unbounded prerogative in civils above law; 
but as the keeper of both tables of the law of God, in a way 
competent to civil authority, interpose his power for the 
ejecting out of the church the prelates, the main instruments 
of the church's and nation's miseries, and from all adminis- 
tration of the power and trust in state such malignant enemies 
as have promoted the ruin thereof. Upon these, or the like 
terms, we tender our allegiance to King William, and hope 
to give more pregnant proof of our loyalty to his majesty, in 
adverse as well as prosperous providences, than they have 
done, or can do, who profess implicit subjection to absolute 
authority, so long only as Providence preserves its grandeur." 2 
1 Sufferings and Grievances, &c, p. 41. 2 Sufferings and Grievances, 43, 44. 


It may be thought that this high profession of loyalty is 
considerably qualified by the conditions on which it is ten- 
dered — conditions which seem to limit civil allegiance by 
religious qualifications, and some of which savour of intoler- 
ance. But it will be granted by all who are friendly to the 
ancient principles of the Church of Scotland, that this party 
insisted for no more, in substance, than what it was the duty 
of the nation to exact, and of the king to grant; and that it 
would have been well for the country and the church had 
such been the terms on which the government was settled ; 
in which case many of the calamities and corruptions which 
followed might have been prevented. It may be remarked, 
too, that though the principles laid down in this petition must 
have led, if carried out, to an entire change in the constitu- 
tion of the English Church, yet the petitioners do not directly 
insist on this as a condition of their allegiance, but appear to 
confine their demands to Scotland; and by saying, "On these 
or the like terms," they reserve a liberty for themselves to 
judge of the expediency of their continuing their allegiance 
to William's government, in the event of their not obtaining 
the full realization of their desires — a liberty of which many 
of them afterwards availed themselves, though some dissented 
from the Revolution settlement, and dissociated themselves 
both from church and state. 

We may now advert to the share taken in public affairs by 
the class of Presbyterians to whom we have referred. And 
here it may be proper to give some account of a transaction 
in which they were the chief actors, and which was not only 
eagerly improved at the time by the enemies of the Revolu- 
tion, but which is to this day grossly misrepresented by his- 
torians of High Church principles — we allude to what was 
called the rabbling of the curates. 

Soon after the convention of estates had declared the 
throne vacant, and before William had been proclaimed King 
of Scotland, the country may be said to have been in a state 
of anarchy. " There was no king in Israel, and every man 
did that which was right in his own eyes." It is remarkable, 
that during this interval, this "surcease of justice," 1 there 
was no insurrection against the local authorities, no lives 

1 "We may count it a surcease of justice from August 1688, to the 1st of 
November 1689." [Fountainkall, i. 516. * 


sacrificed, no outbreaks of any importance, or leading to any 
serious results. When it is considered that the nation had 
been groaning for such a length of time under the most un- 
provoked oppression, it is astonishing that no reprisals were 
attempted on those who had been the instruments of tyranny, 
and that the recoil of the nation on its ancient abutments 
was not accompanied by any disruption of social order. In 
one point only the people considered themselves entitled to 
improve the opportunity of this interregnum. The curates, 
as they called the prelatic incumbents (for they would not 
allow them the name of ministers), were of all others the 
most obnoxious to the common people. They were the 
living monuments of the usurpations of Prelacy. All of 
them had been thrust in by the bishops, under the law of 
patronage, against the inclinations of the people. In many 
cases they had acted the part of spies and informers to the 
government, and aided the soldiers in the harassing and 
bloody persecution; few of them preached the gospel, and 
not a few of them had disgraced their profession by their 
lives. They were regarded, therefore, in the light of hirelings 
and intruders, filling the place, and eating the bread, of 
those faithful ministers whom they had driven into the wil- 
derness, and whose blood was to be found in their skirts. 
No class of men had more reason to dread retribution, now 
that the tyrant was deposed and the military withdrawn; and 
the wonder is that they did not fall sacrifices to the popular 
fury. Nothing, however, worthy of the name of persecution 
awaited them. On Christmas-day, 1688, several of these 
curates, particularly in the west of Scotland, were ejected 
from their churches and manses, chiefly through the agency 
of those called Cameronians or Hill-men. The example was 
followed in different parts of the country. The plan taken 
tor effecting these measures displays a solemn earnestness 
and high feeling of conscientiousness characteristic of the 
party. Regarding themselves as specially called to perform 
this act of justice by the circumstances in which Providence 
had placed them, and even by the vows under which they lay 
for the extirpation of Prelacy, the Covenanters brought out 
the obnoxious incumbent to the churchyard, the cross, or 
some place of public resort. He was then solemnly charged 
with his former misconduct. Not a drop of his blood was 


spilt, not a sixpence worth of his property was touched, 1 except- 
ing his fringed gown (a clerical vestment, which, being worn 
at that time by the curates, was regarded by the people as 
the badge of Prelacy, and was on that account, from that 
time till very lately, obnoxious to all Presbyterians). His 
gown was taken from his shoulders, torn over his head, and 
trampled under foot. This ceremony being ended, the dis- 
robed curate was paraded to the boundaries of the parish, 
and dismissed with an emphatic warning never to return. 

The curates, it appears, were sadly alarmed on these oc- 
casions, expecting nothing else but to be murdered in cold 
blood. We learn this from Patrick Walker, the eccentric 
pedler, who published lives of Cameron, Peden, and other 
Covenanters. Patrick candidly confesses that he himself was 
present at fifteen of these rabblings; and so far from being 
ashamed of his share in them, he records it with evident 
satisfaction. 2 "The time of their fall was now come," says he, 
" which many longed for, even for long twenty-eight years. 
Faintness was entered into their hearts, insomuch that the 
greater part of them could not speak sense, but stood trem- 
1 )ling and sweating, though we spoke with all calmness to them. 
I inquired at them what made them to tremble; they that 
had been teachers and defenders of the prelatical principles, 
and active and instrumental in many of our national mischiefs? 
How would they tremble and sweat if they were in the Grass- 
market going up the ladder, with the rope before them, and 
the lad with the pyoted coat at their tail ! But they were 
speechless objects of pity." 3 This rabbling, as it was called, 
continued till April of the year following, and during this 
time upwards of three hundred curates are said to have been 
ejected. 4 It may be easily conceived what an outcry these 
persons would make after recovering from their panic, and 
finding themselves dispossessed of their livings. The most 
exaggerated reports of their treatment by the rabble were 
transmitted by them to Edinburgh, where they were collected 

1 Sufferings and Grievances of the Presbyterians. 

2 ' ' There was never any public work that I put my hand to wherein I 
took so much delight." [Patrick Walker.) 

a Remarkable Passages in the Life of Richard Cameron, &c, apud 
Biograph. Presbyteriana. 

4 Account of the late Establishment of Presbyterian Government, anno 
1690, p. 65. London, 1693. 


by Dr. Munro (himself smarting under his expulsion from 
the University of Edinburgh), and published under the title 
of " The Case of the present afflicted Episcopal Clergy in 
Scotland truly represented." This highly-coloured caricature 
was sent up to London, to prejudice the Presbyterian cause. 
That in some cases there may have been rudeness and in- 
civility is not to be wondered at. Walker admits, that 
" there were some loose men, brought up under their own 
wings, who were very rude, in eating, drinking, and spoiling 
of their houses;" and complains of this being laid in the 
names of the Covenanters, who were entirely innocent of such 
transactions. But judging even from their own representa- 
tions of " the case of the afflicted clergy," it appears per- 
fectly ridiculous to dignify the annoyances and hardships of 
which they complain with the name of persecution. We are 
informed, for example, that " with tongue and hands they 
committed all outrages imaginable against the ministers, 
their wives, and children;" but when we come to learn the 
particulars, it only appears that, " having eat and drunk plen- 
tifully, at parting they carry the minister out of his house to 
the churchyard, and there expose him to the people as a 
condemned malefactor, gave him a strict charge never to 
preach more in that place; and for the conclusion of all this 
tragedy, they caused his gown to be torn over his head in a 
hundred pieces !" A conclusion worthy of the tragedy indeed ! 
One Mr. William Bullo of Stobo seems to have run the 
greatest risk of martyrdom. " A number of the rabble," he 
says, "offered to stob him;" and on his remonstrating with 

them, " they said, ' You rogue, do you take on you to 

admonish us? We'll shoot you presently through the head.' 
' Then,' said he, ' since you will do it, God have mercy on 
my soul.' Then they laid many strokes on him with the 
broad side of their drawn swords, and told him they would 
forbear his execution that night." Of course, execution was 
delayed sine die. Another of the curates, Mr. John Little, 
seems to have nearly fallen a victim to a regiment of fifty 
women, armed with cudgels, " who," he says, " after tearing 
his coat off, compassed him about, four at each arm; others 
of them beating his head and shoulders with their fists; 
others of them scratching and nipping his back." 1 Such was 
1 Case of the Afflicted Clergy, pp. 5, 56, 59. Mr. Little could not have 


" the case of the afflicted Episcopal clergy of Scotland truly- 
represented !" And such were the martyrs for whom some 
Episcopal writers of the present day still demand our com- 
miseration ! " The moral and moderate clergy," says Wod- 
row, "were very civilly used; and if the profane, the 
firebrands and instigators of all the barbarities so fresh in 
the people's memories, met with some wholesome severities, 
it is not much to be wondered at; and considering the con- 
fusion of the time, and the hand that persons that never 
joined with Presbyterians might have in it, it may be matter 
of admiration that the provoked people ran not a far greater 
length." 1 It is worthy of remark, too, that none complained 
of these pretended severities but the outed curates themselves; 
nor does it appear that, among the whole number who were 
thus summarily turned off, any solitary individual had either 
excited an affectionate wish for his detention, or was accom- 
panied by the regret of his flock at his departure. 

been very materially damaged by this treatment, when, as he tells us, he 
said to the women, that "if they would let him into the kirk, he would 
preach a sermon to them." 

1 Wodrow's Correspondence, vol. i. p. 208. 


1689 — 1690. 

The Cameronian guard and regiment — Colonels Cleland and Blackader 
— Viscount Dundee — Battle of Killiecratikie — Skirmish at Dunkeld — 
Success of the Revolution in Scotland— Difficulties of William — Scottish 
Episcopacy abolished — Factions in Parliament — Earl of Craufurd 's 
measures — Revolution settlement of the Church of Scotland — Its char- 
acter and defects. 

No sooner was it known that the convention of estates 
was to meet in March, 1689, than the Covenanters of the 
west resolved on repairing in a body to Edinburgh, to aid in 
protecting the meeting from the apprehended attack of the 
Jacobites. Their assistance was far from being unnecessary; 
but for some time, to avoid suspicion, they were secretly 
lodged about the town. On the alarm being given, they is- 
sued from their lurking-places, "bearing," says a modern writer, 
"beneath their blue bonnets, faces either sullen with the 
recollection of wrongs, or beaming with expectation of revenge, 
and carrying under their gray plaids, for the work they were 
called upon, the swords and pistols which they had used 
against the house of Stuart at Pentland and Bothwell." 1 
This description of the Covenanters is chargeable with the pre- 
judice and exaggeration common to the Jacobitical school, 
to which the writer belonged. That these much-injured and 
long-suffering men complained, and had reason to complain, 
of the ill-judged lenity of the government at the Revolution 
to their murderers and oppressors, may be true; but to insin- 
uate that they were actuated by a spirit of personal revenge 
is inconsistent not only with their avowed intentions, but 
with the whole of their character and history. Two individ- 

1 Chambers' History of the Rebellions, Constable's Miscellany, vol. xlii. 
P- 33- 


uals, it is true, were now sitting in that convention, who had 
good reason to dread the vengeance of the Covenanters, had 
such a spirit existed; and who, conscious of their misdeeds, 
were now trembling for their safety. These were, the infam- 
ous Sir George Mackenzie, long known in Scotland by the 
name of " Bluidy Mackenzie," and the not less notorious 
Claverhouse, now Viscount Dundee; who, the one by his 
judicial murders, and the other by his military butcheries, 
committed on helpless old men and women, had certainly 
earned no title to the tender mercies of their countrymen. 
Ne-ither of them was long in making his escape. Sir George 
fled to England, where he soon after died miserably. Dun- 
dee, whose hand was too deeply dyed in the blood of Scot- 
land to expect much favour from the government of William, 
to whom he had offered his services without success, and, 
fretting under the disgrace of being superseded in his com- 
mand, was now plotting the restoration of the infatuated 
James, under whose sanguinary and bigoted rule alone he 
felt that his wishes could be gratified or his merits appreciated. 
"The wicked fleeth, " it is said, "when no man pursueth." 
Surrounded by a Cameronian guard, Claverhouse no doubt 
felt himself less at his ease than when boldly riding up, in the 
midst of his dragoons, to attack an unarmed conventicle. It 
is reported that he had one day a casual rencounter on the 
street with Colonel Cleland, the gallant leader of the Cove- 
nanters, who is supposed to have challenged him to single 
combat. 1 However this may have been, he pretended that 
he was in daily danger of his life, and insisted on the Camer- 
onians being dismissed. Meeting with no sympathy in the 
convention, and expecting as little in the civilized parts of 
Scotland, Claverhouse betook himself to the Highlands, 
where, having been denounced as a rebel, he openly raised 
the standard of James VII. 

The sudden rising of Dundee having led to measures for 
the defence of the country, those of the Covenanters known 
by the name of Cameronians, chiefly in the neighbourhood 
of Douglas, raised a regiment of eight hundred men, without 
beat of drum or expense of levy, under the command of the 
Earl of Angus, a nobleman hardly twenty years of age, and 
only son of the Marquis of Douglas. Such was the origin of 

1 Somers' Tracts, apud Life and Diary of Colonel Blackader, p. 17. 


the Cameronian regiment; 1 and never, perhaps, was a body 
of troops so organized. Composed exclusively of those hold- 
ing the extreme views of the Covenanters, who had disowned 
the tyrannical government of James, and who were almost 
alike inimical to the prelatical and the indulged clergy, every 
man in the ranks was a religious enthusiast, in the best sense 
of that term — fired with zeal, based on stern and uncom- 
promising principle, and aiming not merely to free his coun- 
try from civil thraldom, but mainly to restore the reign of 
Presbytery and the Covenant, and put down all their oppos- 
ers. The same zeal, however, which had succeeded so well 
in filling up the ranks of the regiment, was not found so 
favourable to its unanimity or subordination. The men 
insisted on their right to choose their own officers; elders 
were appointed to superintend the moral and religious behav- 
iour of the corps; and rules were laid down, more applicable, 
it must be owned, to a church than a regiment. Discussions 
ensued, of a kind similar to those which had divided the 
counsels of the Covenanters at Bothwell. It was keenly 
debated among them whether it was not a " sinful associa- 
tion" to enlist under the same banner with other regiments, 
composed of those who had been malignants and abettors of 
tyranny, or who had not cleared themselves from the scandal 
of unlawful engagements. Owing to their pertinacity in 
these unreasonable scruples Colonel Cleland, on whom the 
command of the regiment was devolved, very nearly lost 
temper, and he refused to accede to their demands, as sub- 
versive of all military discipline. But the matter was finally 
compromised by their agreeing on a brief general declaration, 
drawn up by Sir Patrick Hume of Polwart, and explained by 
Mr. Alexander Shields, who "backed it with some persua- 
sives, going from company to company." It was to the effect 
that they " appeared in his majesty's service in defence of the 
nation, recovery and preservation of the Protestant religion, 
and, in particular, the work of reformation in Scotland, in 
opposition to Popery, Prelacy, and arbitrary power, in all its 
branches and steps, until the government of church and state 
be brought back to their lustre and integrity, established in 
the best and purest times." These terms, it might be sup- 

1 This regiment is now the 26th in the British infantry, and known still 
bv the name of " The Cameronians." 


posed, were sufficiently guarded; but though the majority 
were induced to comply with them, there were still some, 
including Howie of Lochgoin and Sir Robert Hamilton, who 
continued long after to protest against "Angus' regiment" as 
an association with malignants. 1 

The Cameronian regiment was particularly fortunate in 
the officers who first commanded it. Two of the most dis- 
tinguished of these were, Lieutenant-colonel William Cleland, 
and Captain (afterwards Colonel) Blackader. Colonel Cle- 
land was the son of the factor of the Earl of Douglas, 2 and 
lived much in the castle with Lord Angus, who had a great 
attachment to him. He received a liberal education in the 
University of St. Andrews, and distinguished himself very 
early in life by his poetical talents. 3 Brave, even to excess, 4 
chivalrous, and fond of enterprise, imbued with sound reli- 
gious principle, and with what, in that age, was its insepar- 
able adjunct, a sound hatred of civil and religious despotism, 
he was raised, before completing his seventeenth year, to 
the rank of an officer among the suffering Presbyterians. 
Thenceforth his career was a succession of hairbreadth 
escapes and adventures, of which the unhappy distractions 
of the times have prevented us from obtaining any definite 
accounts; and it is only occasionally, as he dashes on through 
the smoke and turmoil of battle, that we can catch a glimpse 
of him. The first is at a conventicle at Divan, in Fife, 
riding down the hill with another gentleman, to meet the 
military, who were advancing to disturb the meeting, when 
he was with difficulty prevented by Mr. Blackader from 
"breaking after them;" and the royal troops, alarmed at the 
preparation made for their reception, " fled to Cupar, with- 

1 Shields' Memoirs, apud Wodrow's Analecta, Ban. edit. vol. i. The 
Declaration of a poor, wasted, misrepresented remnant of the suffering 
Anti-popish, Anti-prelatic, &c., true Presbyterian Church of Christ in Scot- 
land. 1692. 

2 Wodrow's History, vol. ii. p. 481, where Cleland's father is called 
"garner-keeper," which is misprinted "game-keeper" in Dr. M'Crie's Me- 
moirs of Veitch, &c, p. 108. 

3 A collection of his poems was published in 1697, containing "Hollow 
my Fancie, " "A Mock Poem upon the Expedition of the Highland Host 
in 1678," &c. "These poems," says Dr. M'Crie, "are chiefly in the Hudi- 
brastic style, and discover considerable talent." [Mem. of Veitch, &c, p. 
108.) This is admitted by Sir Walter Scott in his " Minstrelsy of the Scot- 
tish Border," vol. i. 

4 " Extremely brave," says the Earl of Balcarras. [Memoirs, p. 114.) 



out looking over their shoulder, in a dismal fear." 1 His 
next appearance is at Drumclog, ordering his men to fall flat 
on the ground as soon as the enemy presented their pieces 
— a manoeuvre to which the success of the Covenanters on 
that occasion was mainly ascribed. We next find him fight- 
ing with great desperation at Bothwell, after which he flees 
to Holland. Again he is in Scotland, along with the ill-fated 
expedition of Argyll, in 1685, 2 and is recognized by a friendly 
Covenanter, sitting along with some brother officers, in an 
inn at Burntisland, waiting for a passage back to Holland, 
" singing and making as merry as they could, that they might 
not be discovered." 3 And now he is back once more to old 
Scotland, in company with the heroes of the Revolution, to 
deliver her from the grasp of Popery and arbitrary power. 
Though Cleland's name appears among the officers who sided 
with Robert Hamilton at Bothwell, there is reason to think 
that he afterwards left that party; and though still a zealous 
Presbyterian and Covenanter, his principles did not hinder 
him from joining with the government at the Revolution. 
It must be allowed that he seems to have entertained a 
grudge at, and some contempt for, the Highlanders — feel- 
ings common at that time in the Lowlands of Scotland, to- 
wards a race only known for their savage appearance, and 
their predatory invasions on the property of their neighbours. 
And it is somewhat remarkable, that the last engagement in 
which he conquered and fell was with those very "redshank 
squires," as he calls them in his poems, whose meanness and 
servility, added to their cruelties and excesses, had left such 
a strong impression on his youthful imagination. How 
much is it to be regretted that so little more is known con- 
cerning one who united in his character the gentleman, the 
poet, the patriot, the soldier, and the Christian ! 

The other officer in the Cameronian regiment whom we 
have noticed — Lieutenant-colonel John Blackader — is better 
known from his published Diary and Life. He was the son 
of the famous John Blackader, one of the proscribed minis- 
ters, who, after a long persecution, died in the Bass ; and he 
was, like his father, a stanch Presbyterian, though disposed 

1 Memoirs of Rev. John Blackader, p. 212. 

5 YYodrow, vol. iv. pp. 284, 292. 

3 Life of James Nimmo, MS., p. 127; Memoirs of Veitch, p. 456. 


to moderate measures; a lover of the gospel and of good 
men, and at the same time a valiant and successful soldier, 
having served with distinguished honour under the great 
Duke of Marlborough in most of his engagements. He is 
one among the very few who deserve the inscription that has 
been put on his monument — that he was "a brave soldier 
and devout Christian." As a specimen of this the following 
is worthy of being recorded : At one period of his military 
life Colonel Blackader received a challenge, which he refused 
to accept. His adversary threatened to post him as a coward, 
to which he is said to have coolly replied, " that he was not 
afraid of his reputation being impaired by that." Knowing 
that at that very time an attempt was determined on against 
the enemy, of a kind so very desperate that the Duke of 
Marlborough hesitated to what officer he should assign the 
command, and had resolved to decide it by throwing the 
dice, the colonel went to him and volunteered to undertake 
the duty. His offer was accepted, and by the providence 
of God he came off with great loss of men, but without 
any personal injury, and with the complete establishment 
of his character, not only as a brave man and an able 
officer, but also with general estimation as a consistent 
Christian. 1 

We now return to our history. And here it may be proper 
to premise, that the historians of this period, down to our 
own times, are for the most part either avowed Jacobites, or 
so tinctured with Jacobite prejudices as to give, uncon- 
sciously perhaps, a colouring to their narratives injurious to 
the cause of the Revolution, and the principal characters 
engaged in promoting it. This renders it necessary to devote 
more attention to this part of our subject than it would 
otherwise demand of us. Fired with ambition to emulate 
the dashing exploits of Montrose, to whose family he was 
related, Claverhouse had strained every nerve to collect an 
army, and at length found himself at the head of a large and 
motley band of Highlanders and Irish. Loudly have our 
Jacobite writers boasted of the romantic admiration enter- 
tained for Dundee by these roving mountaineers; and loftily 
have they talked of their devoted loyalty to James, and their 
chivalrous love of war. The sober truth of history, however, 

1 Memoirs of Rev. John Blackader, p. 344. 


compels us to divest these descriptions of the captivating air 
thrown over them by romance, poetry, and political partiality. 
As for the Highland chiefs, " it was neither out of love to 
King James nor hatred for King William," says General Mac- 
kay, " that made them rise — at least the wisest of them, as 
Lochiel of the Camerons, whose cunning engaged others 
that were not so much interested in his quarrel; but it was 
out of apprehension of the Earl of Argyll's apparent restor- 
ation and favour, because he had some of his forfeited estates, 
and several combined Highlanders held lands of the earl's." 
The bravery and nobleness natural to the Highland charac- 
ter, and which have been elicited in later times, through the 
influence of education and Christianity, were then undevel- 
oped. And to suppose that the poor serfs — " the miserable 
inhabitants of a Highland barony" — at the command of "a 
barbarous Highland chief, exercising a sway over his vassals 
as absolute as that of a Norman baron of the tenth century" 1 
— were animated with the refined and heroic sentiments 
which have been so largely ascribed to them, is rather too 
absurd for belief. Pelf and plunder, on a scale somewhat 
humbler, though not less harassing, than that of their masters, 
had, for them, more captivating charms than lofty ideas 
about hereditary right, or even the chivalrous sport of " glo- 
rious war." All the efforts of their leader failed to keep their 
thievish propensities within decent bounds. " They were 
marching off every night, by forties and fifties, with droves 
of cattle, and laden with spoils." 2 In spite of all his in- 
fluence the army of Dundee, at first six thousand strong, 
had dwindled away, by repeated desertions, to two thou- 
sand Highlanders and five hundred Irish, the whole force 
with which, according to the Jacobite statements, he encoun- 
tered the army of General Mackay at the Pass of Killie- 

This celebrated fight took place on the 17th of July, 1689. 
Mackay, the royalist general, had no doubt a slight advan- 
tage in point of numbers, having at the most about three 
thousand foot and a few companies of horse; but his army 
was mostly composed of raw recruits, and all of them were 
total strangers to the wild mode of warfare peculiar to their 

1 Chambers' History of Rebellions, p. 190. 
a M'Pherson, p. 357. 


opponents. 1 The Highlanders rushed down the hill with 
their wonted impetuosity, barefooted and stripped to the 
shirt, and uttering the most unearthly yells. Mackay's troops, 
thus assailed by what appeared to them a band of ferocious 
savages, were struck with a sudden panic; some of them gave 
way, the whole fell into confusion, and their brave general, 
finding it impossible to rally them, was compelled to retreat. 
As he spurred his charger, single-handed, through the thickest 
of the enemy, they made way wherever he went; upon which 
he remarks in his memoirs, " that if he had had hutjifty resolute 
horse such as Colchester's with him, he had certainly, to all 
human appearance, recovered the day." 2 The whole was 
the work of a few minutes. Marvellous are the stories told 
of the prowess displayed by the Highlanders in mowing 
down the fugitives; but night coming on they soon fell upon 
the baggage, and gave up all further thoughts of pursuit. 
And thus terminated the battle of Killiecrankie — if battle it 
can be called — in which there was no time for evolutions, 
no attempt at resistance, and hardly the appearance of con- 
flict. The following sensible reflections of Mackay upon 
his defeat are worthy of the high name which he bore for 
unfeigned piety and unshaken courage: "Resolution and 
presence of mind in battle being certainly a singular mercy 
of God, he denieth and giveth it when and to whom he will ; 
for there are seasons when the most firm and stout-hearted 
quake for fear. And though all sincere Christians be not 
resolute, it is because it is not their vocation; for I dare be 
bold to affirm that no sincere Christian, trusting in God for 
support, going about his lawful calling, shall be forsaken of 
him. Not that sure victory shall always attend good men, 
or that they shall always escape with their lives — for experience 
doth teach the contrary; but that God, upon whom they cast 
their burdens, shall so care for them that they shall be pre- 
served from shame and confusion; and that they have his